Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – A Labor of Love

This week, guest contributor Rusha Sams hosts a challenge in honor of Labor Day which is held on the first Monday in September. She writes, “This week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #113 recognizes people around the globe who have gone the distance or created something that impacts life in a meaningful way. From our travels, here are some memorable labors of love. ” You can read her entire challenge post here.

Since 1940, a small group of farmers has gathered to relive the days of threshing with steam. By 1954, the annual event invited the general public and now includes steam engines of all types. The Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion was canceled this year due to the pandemic, but organizers have already begun work on the gathering for Labor Day weekend in 2021. In the early 20th century, these machines separated seeds from stalks and husks. The image above features volunteer workers who operate and maintain Old 353, a steam engine that is used to transport folks around the grounds on a small loop of track. Once a year, steam-powered machines of yesteryear are the focus of the event held at Rollag, Minnesota.

In the days before the Christian Holy Week in Nicaragua, the faithful take time from their daily jobs to participate in a pilgrimage from Nandaime to Popoyuapa. They travel by horsecart or oxcart to honor Jesus the Rescuer, their devotion in thankfulness for the miracles given them in their lifetime. Carrying everything they need for a week’s pilgrimage in their carts, they camped beside the road for the evenings.  As the entourage passed by, I couldn’t help but think about the sacrifices the pilgrims make having to acquire oxen, care for them, build or buy a cart, outfit the family for the trip and take off work to make the pilgrimage. It is truly a labor of love.

In the western Minnesota city of Moorhead, a junior high school counselor had a dream to build a Viking ship and sail it to Norway. Robert Asp began fulfilling his dream in 1971 by researching the history of the Vikings while recuperating from an injury. Upon his recovery, Robert and his brother set about the project and acquired materials. They acquired access to an old potato warehouse in Hawley Minnesota and built the Hjemkomst, the ship name translated to English is “Homecoming.” The ship successfully sailed to Norway in 1982, however, Robert Asp was not aboard. He participated in the sea trials in 1980 but succumbed to Leukemia in December of that year.

Near the city of Chamberlain, South Dakota, high on a bluff overlooking the Missouri River, a 50-foot (15 m) tall sculpture dominates the landscape overlooking the river. Titled Dignity of Earth and Sky, the statue was modeled after three Native American women and sculpted by artist Dale Lamphere. Dignity has been standing tall, her diamond-patterned quilt catching the prairie winds since September 2016.

In Maricopa Arizona, artists Ernie Adams and Gene Tweedy (above) build dwarf cars, 11/16th scale model automobiles that are roadworthy, street legal, and finely detailed right down to their four-cylinder engines. The artists and others who work in this active studio/workshop/museum are expressing themselves in steel. On the day we visited, Gene Tweedy was busy on his latest project, a 1964 Chevrolet Impala being constructed in the workshop behind the back wall in the photo above.

In Denver Colorado’s Botanical Garden, a volunteer worker sets about tending the garden. Workers at many gardens are volunteers, their compensation only in the satisfaction of a job well done. All in all, it’s just like my labor of love, spending hours taking photos and additional hours turning the raw image into something that I hope is presentable to others. This image was modified as part of an earlier photo challenge to emulate the style of impressionist art, in this case, pointillism.

Thanks to Rusha Sams for the challenge, so topical for Labor Day Weekend. For a closer look at these images, if your browser supports it, you can select an image to enlarge it.

John Steiner

14 thoughts on “Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – A Labor of Love

  1. Pingback: Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – A Labor of Love – Wilfredo Santa Gomez MD

    • Thanks. Robert Asp is a local hero. His determination was legendary. His memory is honored by the Hjemkomst Center in his home town where people can visit and learn about his dream come to fruition.

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