Michael Harker, Photographer:

 Barns of Iowa





Michael Harker Biography



Michael P. Harker was born 3 April 1950 in Moline, Illinois. His photographic career began in 1971 while stationed in Germany with the U.S. Army. There he learned darkroom techniques from Hans Jurgen-Heider, a German professional photographer. Several of Harkerís early photographs were published in U.S. Army newspapers.

He earned a B.S. in professional photography from Southern Illinois University in 1976. That same year, he began his professional photography career doing custom photo lab work. He has worked as a freelance commercial photographer and as an in-house photographer for companies in Illinois and Iowa, including Deere and Company (Moline, Illinois) and Rockwell Collins Avionics and Communications Division (now Rockwell Collins, Inc., in Cedar Rapids, Iowa). In 1997, he began his current job as an ophthalmic photographer at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City.

Harker has been a fine arts photographer since 1973. In 1993 he began a series of photographs of barns in Iowa. In the course of researching this subject he discovered that close to a thousand Iowa barns were being destroyed each year due to various causes, and he decided to embark on a serious documentary of the barns. In addition to photographing as many barns as possible, he has given lectures and has mounted exhibits of his photographs. One exhibit was purchased by Humanities Iowa to serve as a permanent traveling exhibit; this exhibit was also shown in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institutionís exhibit ďBarn Again!Ē at locations in Iowa. In 2003, University of Iowa Press published Harkerís Barns: Visions of an American Icon, highlighting a selection of his art photographs and including text by poet Jim Heynen.


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