Untitled, photograph, 8" x 12"

Helen Gunderson is an independent videographer and photographer, a local historian, and a seminary graduate with a passion to interpret her rural Iowa heritage. Presently residing in Gilbert, Iowa, she works under the business name of Gunder-friend Productions.

The Upper Midwest was home to her until 1981 when she enrolled in a Presbyterian seminary near San Francisco and earned a Master of Divinity. As part of that program, she served as parish intern in St. Helena. After graduation, she returned to that town and began Gunder-friend Productions. Then in 1993, she moved back to Iowa. She also has a Master's Degree in Instructional Media from the University of Wisconsin-Stout and a degree in physical education from Iowa State. She has taught in Duluth and Eagle Grove, worked in sports information at North Dakota State University, and directed the YMCA of NDSU.

She describes her relationship with her work in the following way:

"Throughout my adult years, I have photographed small town events and farm scenes. In 1980, I produced a slide/sound show for the all-class school reunion in my hometown of Rolfe. Then in 1988, I produced two shows for the 125th anniversary of the town. After that, I intended to go 'cold turkey' and stop photographing Iowa in order to get on with life in Northern California. In 1989, I began coming back to Iowa on photo forays and sowed the seeds for a project called The Road I Grew Up On. It's a work-in-process and consists of video, photography, and oral histories.

"I am discovering more about the history, recognizing myth systems, reflecting on what I observe and creating images. I have deep, albeit mixed feelings, for the area and want to share them via my work. Regardless of format, whether a video, exhibit, or essay, I want to move people and have them explore the truth of their lives. The process can have a spiritual dimension and be healing.

"Currently, I am producing a set of photographs for a rural sociologist to publish in a book he is writing on the Practical Farmers of Iowa. Also, in 2001, I equipped my computer with all the right stuff to do digital video editing and completed a 30-minute program called Growing against the Grain that interprets the work of the Audubon County Family Farms who are involved in sustainable agriculture and direct-marketing their produce. Having the capacity to do quality video editing with my own equipment should enable me to complete the show, The Road I Grew Up On, and one called The House at the Homeplace."

text and image from Iowa Artisans Gallery

This page was first displayed
on July 25, 2006

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