Agriculture plays a key role in Craig Edwards’ art, as he is both a photographer and a farmer. He works the land his grandfather homesteaded in 1911 and draws artistic inspiration from the landscapes, objects, and wildlife that surround him. In fact, nearly all of his photographs are shot within a 50-mile radius of his home near Big Sandy, and while that may seem like a limited range, Edwards always finds new and interesting ways to portray his environment through art.
“I am constantly striving to elevate my craft and my interpretation of my surroundings,” says Edwards, who has been a fine arts photographer for over ten years (and shooting professionally since 1990).
After earning an arts degree from MSU, Edwards returned home to work as a sharecropper, and a few years later, bought into the family farm. Meanwhile, he put his artistic skills to use as a commercial photographer, mainly shooting weddings. Then, around 2005, he was working with his father on some historical photos for the Big Sandy Historical Museum, and the situation made him reflect on his role in the area.
“It motivated me to photograph my community in a way I hadn’t before,” he says.
All of Edwards’ photography is informed by this decision to portray his home in a new light. Each image expresses his feelings about the subject being captured, and entreats the viewer to do the same. It is this sincerity that has allowed him to become an award-winning photographer.
Among the many honors he’s earned over the years, Edwards was recognized in April 2018 at the Montana Professional Photographers Convention in Helena. His Harvest Square Dance, an aerial image of harvest equipment, earned him a number of awards and he was named one of the top ten photographers in the state.
In May 2018, Edwards became one of just a few artists to have work purchased by MSU-Northern for the campus’ newly opened diesel technology building.
“The Montana Arts Council facilitated the search for artwork for the building, and MSU-Northern had a committee put together to choose the art that was most suitable,” Edwards explains. “They purchased twelve pieces of my fine art for their permanent installation. I think the building called for an artist with an ag background to be part of that.”
Edwards directs people to his website to view and purchase his photography, but he advocates that (if possible) interested parties experience his artwork first-hand.
“The texture and scale of my art is much different in person,” he says. “It creates a much different experience that I encourage people to take advantage of.”
In addition to the MSU-Northern installation, Edwards’ artwork can be found at the Decorating House in Great Falls, the WHA Footprints on the Trail Art Show (each March), and at his gallery in Big Sandy. Hours can be sporadic—the gallery is open as farming allows—so it’s best to set up an appointment ahead of time. For more information, visit edwardsstudio.com or call (406) 390-7156.