Duxbury oysters are listed on restaurant menus across the country, but few people get to know the farmers who help bring the briny bivalves to the table. In its newest exhibition, “Oyster Farm Photographs,” The Art Complex Museum reveals the faces and stories of the oyster industry through photography.
Raw portraits by Dedham photographer Jim Hooper showcase the faces of local people who work in Duxbury’s shellfish industry. Hooper photographs people in their work clothes against a simple cloth backdrop in his studio at the Duxbury Maritime School. These portraits are part of Hooper’s larger project of portraits featuring the men and women who farm oysters in the coastal towns of Boston’s South Shore and Cape Cod.
The exhibit also features images by Evvy Eisen, a photographer whose photographs portray an era of oyster farming in California that has now ended. A New York artist who works in the San Francisco Bay area, Eisen’s photos document the final year of Drakes Bay Oyster Company, which closed its facilities after the National Park Service lease that protected the farm was denied renewal in 2012. Amidst political debate over the environmental and ethical consequences of the decision, Eisen sought to photograph the immigrant workers whose jobs and homes were threatened, to put human faces on what had become an abstract and theoretical dilemma. Hooper’s and Eisen’s photography can be viewed at The Art Complex Museum from August 19 to November 4. 189 Alden St., Duxbury, artcomplex.org —Courtney Garvey