The Golden Cage: Mexican Migrant Workers and Vermont Dairy Farmers

April 1 - June 11, 2011 

We're pleased to announce the opening of the Vermont Folklife Center's Vision and Voice Documentary Workspace project The Golden Cage: Mexican Migrant Workers and Vermont Dairy Farmers, an exhibition of photographs, text, and audio (in Spanish and English) that explores the relationships between farmers and Mexican workers on dairy farms in Addison County. The Golden Cage is on display in the Amy E. Tarrant Gallery at the Flynn Center, Friday, April 1 through Saturday, June 11. An opening reception for the exhibit is on Friday, April 1 from 5:30 to 8 pm.

Migrant Mexican farm workers began arriving on Vermont dairy farms almost 10 years ago and continue to work here, leading hidden lives. Through intimate photographs and interviews, The Golden Cage creates a revealing portrait of dairy farmers and their Mexican employees and to offer a glimpse into their interdependent lives. The interplay of photographs, text, and audio evokes this new world of dairy farming and the hopes and struggles of both farmers and farm workers.

Conceived by former Vermont Migrant Education Program tutor Chris Urban whose work teaching English brought him to farms around Addison County, The Golden Cage pairs photographs of dairy farmers and Mexican workers created by Caleb Kenna with audio and text excerpts from interviews conducted by Chris Urban. Although the exhibit focuses specifically on Addison County, similar stories-in all their complexity and contradiction-could be told in dairy farming communities around Vermont and throughout the United States.

At the opening reception, Brandon-based photographer Caleb Kenna gives a slide presentation and discusses how the project came about. The Vermont native and has worked as a freelance photographer for National Geographic Adventure, Yankee Magazine, and the New York Times. Cheryl Connor and Cheryl Mitchell, of the Addison County Farm Workers’ Coalition will also be on hand to deliver a short presentation. Connor is co-convener of the Addison County Farm Workers Coalition is a RN and LNA instructor for Addison Home Health & Hospice. Connor was nominated for "Vermonter of the Year" as the voice of the migrant worker, Connor and her husband run a dairy farm in Addison County. She has established several programs for migrant workers including Spanish Mass—a Spanish/English newsletter—and the Amistad volunteer transportation program.

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