by Helen Feeser ’15
On Oct.16, Cole Hall hosted Bridgewater College’s own Scott Jost as he presented portions of his book, Shenandoah Valley Apples. Following his presentation, attendees were invited to attend a unique reception.
Scott Jost is a photographer and associate professor of art at the College. Combining landscape photos of the Valley’s orchards with interviews from local apple farmers, Shenandoah Valley Apples shows the “relationship between people and land.” “This is the kind of work I do as an artist – the intersection of land and culture,” Jost said.
Jost described the process leading up to the book. “I tried to photograph and interview until I had a good understanding of the story,” he said. All photographs were taken on film, developed, scanned, then edited digitally. Interviews began with open-ended questions. “Largely once people started talking, it was just a matter of continuing conversation,” Jost said.
A dominant theme running throughout the book is change. Change has led to the diminishing number of orchards in Virginia and has made the industry increasingly unstable. According to Jost, new technology, societal values, urbanization and international trade all contribute to the change in the industry.
This change was depicted through the stark contrast of Jost’s photos in which orchard landscapes shifted from fields filled with apple trees to overgrown desolate lands. Amid the change in the industry, Jost said he has still found many stories of “success, perseverance and hope.”
A Kansas native, Jost’s inspiration for this project came from an apple tasting at the Harrisonburg farmers market. Similarly, audience members were invited to an apple tasting at the reception following the lecture. The tasting featured eight different varieties of apples accompanied by cider from Ryan’s Orchard in Timberville, Va.
After completing this project, Jost says he is more conscious of buying local apples, much like those featured at the reception, and encourages others to do the same.