ArtPrize entry shows diversity in craft brewing – WOODTV.com

"Women of Craft" by Steph Harding. (Sept. 30, 2015)
“Women of Craft” by Steph Harding. (Sept. 30, 2015)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — It’s the eyes of the six women in the photographs that grab your attention first.

“When I do portraits, I try to focus a lot on the eyes,” artist Steph Harding said. “You know that phrase, ‘the window into the soul’ type of a thing, so I really tried to bring that out.”

The six photos are her entry in ArtPrize Seven. “Women of Craft” features portraits of women craft beer brewers — something that surprised many viewing the piece.

“People, their perception of this industry is that it’s all guys,” Harding said — even in Grand Rapids, which has been named Beer City, USA.

Harding, who has photographed exclusively in the craft beer industry the past three years, wanted to create a conversation on the distorted perception of craft brewers. Her portraits show six women stripped of the safety glasses, rubber gloves and boots that are usually their uniform for work. Her goal was to showcase their personalities.

Back in the environment that typically leaves the brewers covered in the dust of grains and hops, the women’s level of comfort came through in their beer.

“Originally, actually women did all the brewing : alewives. It was part of the cooking in the kitchen,” one of the brewers-turned-models, Laura, explained. “I’m bringing brewing back — back to the ladies.”

As distinct as their photos, the brewers are as diverse as the beers they craft.

“That’s just it. It’s diverse,” another of the brewers, Chrissy, said. “You can have a beard, you can have long hair, you can wear makeup, you don’t need makeup. That’s one thing I love about it, you can be who you are.”

“Women of Craft” can be viewed at Boutique Emmanuel, which is inside the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, through the end of ArtPrize Seven. The world’s largest art competition runs through Oct. 11.

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