Matej Vavak came to Nebraska in 1868 with his wife and five children, settling on a homestead in the hills of Saunders County near what would become the Czech village of Prague. The family first built a log cabin, then a house, and farmed the land for many years. Upon his death, Matej was buried with his wife in a small cemetery in the fields of the property, marked with a large stone carved in his native Bohemian language.

I didn’t come to Nebraska until 1995, the summer before my junior year of high school. My father grew up in Prague and my mother in east-central Iowa, but I was born in Indiana after they were married. By the time I became interested in art and photography, I had lived in Nebraska for roughly half of my life, much longer than my family had stayed in any one place while I was growing up. I realized that I only knew a very small portion of the state I called home and decided to embark on a photo project designed to change that.

On a warm June day in 2007, I began my exploration at the grave of Matej Vavak, still standing in the midst of a field of newly planted soy beans. It seemed like a fitting place to begin the journey. That first day, I crossed the Platte River at North Bend and drove US Highway 30 west to Grand Island.

ninety-three developed over the course of a few road trips to every corner of the state. At first, I didn't really know exactly what it was I was looking for. This was the best possible way I could have approached something like this. Without a concrete plan, I was able to let Nebraska dictate how the project would look and influence the way my photography was developing. I found out a lot about myself in the landscape, from the isolation of a single lane of asphalt through the sandhills to the tremendous sound of a short grass prairie moving in the wind. Even though the project is now finished, I find myself with a strong need to revisit these places, to continue exploring Nebraska.

In the end, the series consists of one photograph for every one of the state’s 93 counties. It’s an unusual portrait of the state I call home, a visual document recording all the details that I encountered along the way. I hope that people enjoy the photographs and find themselves inspired to get to know Nebraska a little better.

Selections from ninety-three were exhibited at Hot Shops Art Center in Omaha during May of 2010. I hope to show the entire series at some point and publish a book of the photographs.

A map of everywhere I visited during the making of ninety-three.