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"Joan in Her Turquoise Dress, near Bellevue, Iowa, Winter 2009" © Sandy Dyas

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"This assignment has inspired me to photograph my friends. I have photographed Joan or Joanie as we call her, many times in the past twenty years. She and I have both lived in Iowa our entire lives.

Joan and I both grew up in Jackson County, Iowa. We lived about fifteen miles from one another but went to different schools. I realized who she was by seeing her with her boyfriend (who she later married at the age of eighteen) at the local "teen hops" when we were in high school.

During the 1970's I was married and living in Bellevue, Iowa. It was at this time we met and became good friends. Whether or not Joan represents Iowa, I cannot say for sure. To me, she does. She is her own person, she has an amazing spirit and works incredibly hard.

I chose to photograph Joan sitting at the picnic table on her deck. Behind Joan is her greenhouse where she starts her little plants for her enormous garden. Her husband Marty built the greenhouse and the deck. They have lived in this little house most of their lives. They only live a few miles from where they were born.

This photograph was a collaboration between the two of us. Joan had her dress, petticoat and sweater picked out and ready. She offered me some choices when it came to choosing her hat. I chose the gold "bird" hat. I believe this photograph captures some of her wonderful spirit, strength and abundant beauty."