The 70-year-old as been crafting massive designs into fields since the early 1980s.
Lawrence crop artist Stan Herd was among those who applauded Joe Biden's decision to pick Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate. "I'm a political junkie so I follow this stuff real deeply and it always made sense to me that she was the one," he told the Kansas City Star. Early this spring, the 70-year-old — who has been crafting massive designs into fields since the early 1980s — raised money from friends to complete a portrait of the Democratic presidential candidate in Lawrence, Kansas, after the former vice president became the presumptive Democratic nominee. He also anticipated Harris' nomination nod at the time and drew out a portrait of her in advance.
His proactiveness came in handy when just hours after the announcement, he was able to begin work on a piece of farmland next to where his Biden portrait had already faded. These portraits eventually made it to Biden's Instagram where, according to the artist, they "blew up big." The Biden campaign then commissioned Herd to do three more pieces of art in swing states Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania in the runup to the election, reports Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and the results are breathtaking.
"I was excited about this messaging, more a positive message about Joe and Kamala, the idea to 'build back better,'" said Herd, who was once called the "Father of Crop Art" by CBS news anchor Dan Rather. "In the face of all the negative stuff being thrown around the planet, positive messaging is going to prevail. It'll have more cachet in the marketplace, as it were." For the Wisconsin project, the artist wanted a property that was large enough for a pro-farmer message while also being close enough to air traffic patterns so as to be visible to travelers from above.
Neil and Jennifer Young's 180-acre property in the Village of Yorkville in Racine County fit the bill perfectly. "We've done some work with the local Democratic Party and had some fundraisers for Tammy Baldwin on our farm," said Jennifer. "We got a call that there's a crop artist interested in finding a place about 2 to 3 acres, and they explained what they wanted to do. We walked over to some places that we thought would be good, and the perfect place is in our hayfield. When they showed me the prototype, I said, 'Sure, if you want to try it, but there's no way you can do that.'"
She admitted that her skepticism soon turned to amazement as she watched the whole process develop before her eyes. "We lease that out to a farmer and wanted to make sure he was OK with it, wanted to make sure it didn't destroy the land. Everything they used was environmentally friendly. They were just very respectful of everything," she said. Over the course of several days, Herd and his team created the image of a farming family in their milieu with ears of corn at the center of the design and the message "Build Back Better." Speaking of watching the artist at work, Jennifer said: "They're measuring everything out precisely, so particular. 'The hat's not the right angle, put dirt here, out there.' They're using basically a lawn mower, a weed eater, carting stuff out in wheelbarrows. The drawing they had was all technology, gridded off, and then they copied it onto the field and filled in the picture."
In Pennsylvania, the artist created a 200-by-215-foot poster-style image reminiscent of 1930s-era Works Progress Administration art. Depicting construction workers, a farmer, a bridge over a river, and an industrial skyline, it also featured Biden's "Build Back Better" slogan, the website iwillvote.com, and the word "Biden." The series also included a 1-acre crop picture in Kalamazoo with a Michigan centered theme.