A new book coming out in April features black-and-white portraits of Iowa’s grand old barns. The aging outbuildings fascinated Michael Harker, a professional photographer at the University of Iowa. It started when he was pheasant-hunting near Clutier, and saw a weathervane leaning against a barn; struck by how nice a photo it would make, Harker went back the following week and got permission to take a picture. Harker says he then realized Iowa’s losing barns fast and decided to put his energy into making a serious documentary. Harker went in search of sponsors, and eventually got the attention of “Humanities Iowa,” which led to a decision by University of Iowa Press to publish a book of the photos. He says as time passes, the pictures show a vanishing part of Iowa’s history because the barns are going away.Several barns that are pictured in the book have been damaged by storm, torn down by corporate buyers of the old family farms, or just have fallen to decay. 20 of Harker’s photos were displayed around the state as part of the traveling Smithsonian exhibit “Barn Again.” The book, “Harker’s Barns — Visions of an American Icon” is due out in April but Harker says you can order it now and find it at some bookstores.
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