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Farmers sow artwork for international project PDF Print E-mail
Written by Holyoke Enterprise   

Oltjenbruns collaborates with artists for Vancouver Biennale “I Have a Dream” exhibition

Excitement is growing around the world among art circles as farmers and artists come together to collaborate on the “I Have a Dream” project, with one Phillips County corn field soon finding itself on the international art stage.

Local farmer Ken Oltjenbruns and his wife Kevin are avid supporters of the arts both in Fort Collins and Holyoke, and their commitment to furthering the arts led them to involvement in a unique collaboration with Denver artist Laura Phelps Rogers, who was invited to participate in the “I Have a Dream” project.

Last Friday, Aug. 15, Oltjenbruns and Laura’s husband Carl Rogers created their depiction of “I Have a Dream” in one of Oltjenbruns’ corn fields northeast of Holyoke.

Photos of the field will join the artwork from other farmers around the globe who spelled out the sentence in their own language, using their own crops.

All of this will come together for Canada’s Vancouver Biennale in an exhibition coordinated by Indian artist Shweta Bhattad. She is bringing farming issues to an international platform by combining photos and videos for an art display to be installed in the city.


An aerial view of Ken Oltjenbruns’ corn field northeast of Holyoke shows the 15-feet-by-140-feet “I Have a Dream” phrase in the grass along the road. Images like this from around the world, depicted in many crops and many languages, will be pieced together to form an international art exhibit by artist Shweta Bhattad for Canada’s Vancouver Biennale.

Dream takes shape

After several long, hot hours last Friday, Oltjenbruns and Rogers could finally see the fruits of their labor paying off.

“I Have a Dream” was spelled out by mowing the grassy area along a dirt road, with a green corn field and a blue Colorado sky as a backdrop and a faint view of Holyoke in the distance.

From a bird’s-eye view, the letters were 15 feet tall, with the entire phrase measuring 140 feet wide. The grass itself was about waist high.

Oltjenbruns drew out the plans for his crop art rendition of “I Have a Dream,” which he followed during the execution of the project.

Ken and Kevin first met Phelps Rogers at Denver’s contemporary artspace RedLine while visiting Irish artist Diedre Mahony’s project. Their visit led to friendship and now an opportunity to become international artists themselves.

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Local farmer Ken Oltjenbruns, at left, and Carl Rogers stand
amongst the large grass letters as the “I Have a Dream” phrase
began to take shape Friday, Aug. 15.           —Enterprise photo

Holyoke Enterprise Aug. 21, 2014