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Linda Toki ’87 Takes Second Place in BarnArt Show

Hard Times by Linda Toki

Prize-winning photo “Hard Times,” by Linda Toki

In June 2016, Linda Toki ’87 took second place in the photography category in the BarnArt Show in Gettysburg for her iPhone photo Hard Times. Linda is the visual information specialist and photographer at the Farm Credit Administration in McLean, Virginia.

What the Judge Had to Say

“I felt strong emotions about Hard Times. The way the composition is unbalanced with strong heavy objects and with features slipping from upper left to lower right…caused a feeling of panic or at least insecurity. This sense of unease with the dark sky and the old, maybe broken-down, vehicle offers an exciting narrative.”

In the Artist’s Words

Linda chose a photo from her collection for this show. She said of the scene: “I didn't choose it exactly. You couldn’t help it. When you come upon it, it can’t be ignored. You had to take a photo.” The barn belongs to a neighbor in Adams County, near Linda’s Gettysburg house, where she and her husband live on the weekends.

She chose “Hard Times” as the title because the scene is “a place that feels like it’s struggling,” she said. For Linda, converting the photo to black and white “emphasized that mood. Sometimes color is just too much information, [information] that you don’t need to tell the story.”

Why a Barn?

The unique requirement for the BarnArt show is, according to the brochure for the show, that every work “include a reference to a barn or details of a barn.” For works in competition for the cash prizes, the barns had to be in Adams County.

The show, now in its 10th year, is organized through a grassroots project of the Historic Gettysburg Adams County Preservation Society. The goal of this project is preservation of the Pennsylvania-style historic barns of Adams County, which are architecturally unique. The BarnArt Show and sale of the art works help raise awareness of the rural heritage embodied in the barns. Proceeds from the event are used to help fund grants for local barn owners.

It’s no coincidence that Linda has several barns to choose from in her collection. She grew up in the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania. Although Gettysburg was not part of her childhood landscape, it does take her “out of the city and back to rural America.” Every weekend she is out and about in Adams County, “always looking for ag-related themes to use for work,” she said. “I also like abandoned, neglected places. I think they tell a story.”

Linda noted that Gettysburg is national parkland, and the area around the town is zoned agricultural so “it will never be developed like the Tysons Corner area.”

The Technical Bits

Linda shot Hard Times on her iPhone and then used Snapseed, a free photo-editing app for iPhones and iPads, to adjust the contrast and render the photo in black and white.

While her Nikon DSLR is still her “pro tool,” she does about 80 percent of her work on her iPhone, which she calls “awesome.” “It’s the most creative tool in the history of photography to date.”

Be Inspired

Linda said that because of the iPhone, “everyone has the opportunity to be creative. Photography is no longer an elitist, rich person’s activity. An artist can create a masterpiece with a box of crayons just as easily as with a palette of paint,” she said.

Want to See More?

If you’d like to further explore Linda’s art, follow the links below. Or flip through FCA’s annual report: Most of the agriculture-themed photos are Linda’s work, taken in rural Pennsylvania with an iPhone.

Linda has taught iPhone photography at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, Virginia, and hopes to offer classes this fall at the Adams County Arts Council in Gettysburg.