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About The Art of Dirt

Why "The Art of Dirt?"

We have been asked this question numerous times throughout the production of this exhibit. To me, the answer is simple. The art of dirt is agriculture just as it might be painting, sculpture, pottery or building construction. We encounter all of these trades and the people who practice them, in our extensive travels with IDE. So we find it fitting that "The Art of Dirt" should celebrate the accomplishments of those farmers and artisans we work with every day—the literal planting, harvesting, and marketing of the high-value crops they grow using IDE technologies, and just as importantly, the doors of economic opportunity they are opening for themselves, their children, and their communities at large through that hard work and entrepreneurial spirit.

The artworks on the walls of this gallery (as well as on our auction website) come from artists in the countries where we work. They were selected based on a "small farm" and/or "markets" theme to further the link between "art" and "dirt." During the art selection process, we discovered more connections. Our Ethiopian artist, the venerable Lemma Guya, spent his childhood on a farm, and later as a shepherd. Dina Chhan, our Cambodian artist, is herself an IDE customer and owns a Rabbit Ceramic Water Purifier. When Dina went to one of IDE Cambodia's project areas for research on the painting we commissioned from her, she realized she had been employed by IDE a few years earlier doing illustrations for one of our field instruction manuals.

Many of the other artists exhibited here have significant connections to rural life as well. It's no stretch to assume that those connections have influenced our artists to make such successful forays into the themes represented in the exhibit.

We promote the water technologies you see in the exhibit here to farmers in 13 countries around the world. They are not given away. These products are developed and tested by IDE, and then they are sold in the marketplace to farmers who value them for the income they can help produce.

The technologies are just one of the tools farmers need in their practice of the art of dirt, but they are at least one tangible component of our work that we can show to the public. The intangibles—the most important aspects of the work we share with our customers—can be found in the space between the artwork and the technologies here, where ideas and people meet.

Welcome to "The Art of Dirt."

— A.G. Vermouth, Producer/Co-Curator


Curator's Statement

The Art of Dirt Exhibition Part II is a celebration of artists from 10 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the work they create.

The artists were invited to submit works relating to small markets and farms – the context for the work of IDE. There is a rich diversity of materials that have been used – canvas, burlap, mill paper backed with old sari material, mpapa wood, fabric, and goatskin. What is evident in the images are reflections of the unique culture and context of the artists’ worlds. This collection of 43 paintings and art works, provides a rich layer in visualizing and understanding the world from where they originate – Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Honduras, India, Mozambique, Nepal, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

These artists work in studios, thatched huts, fields and city apartments. Their wealth is the freedom to work and express their souls and their ideas through art – art without walls, art without boundaries, art without borders. Some are famous in their countries, others are well known in their communities, while others work quietly without seeking recognition.

Our heartfelt gratitude goes to the artists who made their work available at the lowest price possible, to the IDE individuals who sponsored the works, to the generous assistance from framers and suppliers, and to the team at 910 Gallery.

All of the art can be purchased today from Gallery Staff. Some of these are available by online auction at To place a bid now, ask Gallery Staff for assistance. Your purchase contributes to the work of IDE and supports the artists represented in this exhibition.

— Agatha Doerksen, Curator, The Art of Dirt Exhibition Part II


IDE thanks the following individuals and companies for their generous support. Without them, this exhibit would not have been possible:

  • 910Arts Gallery, Denver CO.
  • Matting and framing of artworks generously provided by Anthology Framing, Denver, CO.
  • Artwork preparation and framing generously provided by Tony Eitzel, Denver, CO.
  • Large format photographic printing generously provided by Reed Photo-Imaging, Denver, CO.
  • Exhibit naming "The Art of Dirt" generously facilitated by Matt Nathan, Denver, CO.
  • Online art auction developed by Jim Ruberto, Denver, CO



IDE Exhibit Producer and Co-Curator – A.G. Vermouth
Curator, Part II – Agatha Doerksen
Online Components – Aaron Langton
IDE Ambassadors Program, Event Promotion – Heidi Cuppari
IDE Donor Relations, Event Coordination – Laryl Hutchin
Exhibit Intern and Display Construction – Eric Firnhaber

Special Thanks:

  • Gert Jan Bom, PRACTICA
  • Zemen Deginetu
  • Aban Desai, Tejas Gallery, Kolkata, West Bengal, India
  • Sue Drummond Haley
  • Mark Jeunnette
  • Louise Martorano
  • Elke McGuire
  • Denise Robert
  • Sudarshan Suryawanshi
  • Erick Schenkeir
  • Ashley Thomas
  • Verandah Gallery, Harare, Zimbabwe
  • Bob Yoder