Harker, Michael P. 1950-

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HARKER, Michael P. 1950-

PERSONAL: Born April 3, 1950, in Moline, IL; son of George D. (a machinist) and Dorothy M. Harker; married Theresa A. Schafer (a day care provider), June 14, 1986; children: Emma Rose. Ethnicity: "Caucasian." Education: Black Hawk College, A.S., 1973; Southern Illinois University, B.S., 1976; attended Mount Mercy College, Cedar Rapids, IA, 1989. Politics: "Registered Democrat."

ADDRESSES: Home—3543 Vernon Ct. S.E., Cedar Rapids, IA 52403. Offıce—Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Hospitals and Clinics, University of Iowa, 200 Hawkins Dr., Iowa City, IA 52242. Agent—Paul Ingram, Prairie Lights Book Store, Iowa City, IA. E-mail—[email protected]; [email protected]

CAREER: Frank Woods Photography, DeSoto, IL, photographer, 1975-76; Wilson & Lund, Inc., Moline, IL, custom photographic laboratory technician, 1976-78; Tom Simmons Photography, St. Louis Park, MN, assistant photographer and manager of photography laboratory, 1980; Vicomm, Inc., Moline, photographer and manager of photography laboratory, 1981-83; freelance commercial photographer in Davenport, IA, 1983-85; Tucker/Thompson Photographics, Inc., Cedar Rapids, IA, director, photographer, and manager of studio and laboratory 1985-86; Rockwell Avionics and Communications, Cedar Rapids, staff photographer, 1986-94; Silver Nitrate Photography, Cedar Rapids, owner, photographer, and writer, 1994-97; University of Iowa, Iowa City, ophthalmic photographer for Hospitals and Clinics, 1997—. Quad City Times, staff news photographer, 1984; also worked as photographic technician for Lee Williams Enterprises and Deere and Co., both 1977, and as a public-relations photographer. Teacher of adult photography classes at Rend Lake College, 1976, and Scott Community College, 1982. Exhibitions: Photographs exhibited in numerous group and solo shows, primarily in Iowa, but also in connection with "Barn Again!," Smithsonian Institution. Military service: U.S. Army, 1970-74; served in Germany.

MEMBER: Ophthalmic Photographers Society.


(Photographer) Harker's Barns: Visions of an AmericanIcon, text by Jim Heynen, University of Iowa Press (Iowa City, IA), 2003.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Family Farmers of the Heartland; Iowa's Rural School Houses; Iowa's Classic County Courthouses.

SIDELIGHTS: Michael P. Harker told CA: "I began my career in photography in 1971 when I met Hans Jürgen-Heider, a German professional photographer, while I was stationed with the U.S. Army in Mannheim, Germany. Hans tutored me in black-and-white darkroom techniques. I learned enough to enable me to get several of my early photographs published in army newspapers during the last few months of my tour. My experience with Hans helped me decide to become a professional photographer myself.

"While still a student at Southern Illinois University, I did public-relations photography for the mayor of Saint Louis and for the Anheuser-Busch Corporation. I taught an adult-education photography course during my last semester. I graduated in 1976 with a bachelor's of science degree in professional photography.

"My professional life began in 1976 with a series of jobs in custom photo lab work. I spent two years with an advertising agency, two years with a commercial photography studio, and a year and a half with a technical art firm. In 1983 I went into business for myself as a commercial photographer. I had advertising agencies for clients and did some work for national advertising campaigns, but the majority of work was for local market assignments. In 1985 I took a position as director of a photography studio in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for a year, before moving on to become a corporate photographer for Rockwell Avionics and Communications. My tenure there lasted for almost eight years until a corporate downsizing eliminated my position. So I went back into business for myself as Silver Nitrate Photography, specializing in high-quality black-and-white photography. In 1997 I was offered a position as an ophthalmic photographer at the University of Iowa. The Ophthalmology Clinic is rated number six in the country, and the quality of photography done in our unit is one of the very best in the country. Besides my assignment of performing diagnostic eye photography, I am responsible for running the photo lab for the clinic.

"I have been doing fine arts photography since 1973, and have sold my work to private collectors as far away as Los Angeles, Canada, and Ireland. I have had many one-man shows throughout the Midwest. In 1993 I began a series of black-and-white photographs of barns in Iowa that I thought would make excellent material for my art photography. After a couple of years of taking photographs, I began to do some research on barns and discovered that Iowa was losing about a thousand barns a year to various destructive causes.

"I decided that I needed to turn my art photography into a serious documentary and began planning the design of the project and a way to bring my work to the attention of the public. I knew I would need to photograph dozens of barns before I could offer an exhibit, and I made this my first priority. It was a time-consuming process. Over the next three years and about 8,000 miles of traveling country roads, I made 120 photographs of barns.

"I applied to Project Art at the University of Iowa Hospitals for a one-man show and also applied to be a presenter at the Iowa History Forum. Both requests were accepted in 2000. At the forum, I met members of the Linn County Historical Society in Cedar Rapids, who invited me to participate in their efforts to bring the plight of Iowa's barns to the attention of the public. I began negotiating with Humanities Iowa about the possibility of having a book of my work published; this was not within the scope of their funding, but the board of directors did approve purchasing a collection of my photographs to make into a traveling exhibit.

"I then met with Paul Ingram, a literary agent in Iowa City, Iowa. He immediately like my work and arranged to introduce me to Holly Carver, director of the University of Iowa Press. My book, Harker's Barns: Visions of an American Icon, was published in 2003."



Booklist, March 15, 2003, Ray Olson, review of Harker's Barns: Visions of an American Icon, p. 1266.