2014 has gotten off to a very slow beginning. The winter, while not at all snowy, was exceptionally cold for an extended length of time. It was not above freezing much at all until the last week or so, but spring finally appears to be arriving in Nebraska. Professionally, I've been busy starting a new job in public relations at Fontenelle Forest and finally completed my bachelor's degree at Bellevue University. Now is the time to look forward and to focus on making something of all these photographs I've made over the past eight years.
2013 marked the publication of my first photobook, ninety-three, something that I've wanted to do for a long time. The book is self-published with Blurb and available now. I'm quite proud of how the book and project turned out, an excellent beginning to what I hope is a long career. It is interesting to see how my work has evolved in a relatively short amount of time.
Much of the past year was spent exploring places that I had never been to or hadn't seen in many years. I felt that it was a great year of growth artistically, although I found myself missing the tremendous task of envisioning and assembling a cohesive, new large-scale project. One new idea that came out of these travels is the series titled Main Streets that was added for the first time with this new site design.
I made a trip to south-central Missouri and the Ozarks last March, discovering that it was actually colder there than it was further north in Omaha. It had been many years since I visited the Lake of the Ozarks with my family and I wanted to see how much the area had changed. There is a lot of new, but also a few things that I still recognize from decades ago. I spent a day along old Route 66 in Missouri and meandered along the path of the Missouri River for most of the trip home.
In early June, I found myself drawn to northern South Dakota and North Dakota by a biography of Sitting Bull that I was reading at the time. Sitting Bull's grave site stands on a desolate hill overlooking the upper Missouri River and Mobridge, South Dakota. My arrival coincided with the appearance of the ominous clouds of a large thunderstorm. It created an almost unreal atmosphere in this sacred place, the clouds towering over the wide open landscape, reminding me of the sorrow that has been inflicted on Native American people. From there, I went north towards the Canadian border, discovering the frantic, dusty activity of an oil boom and the near-ghost town of Antler, North Dakota.
My last out of state trip was at the very end of fall at beginning of December. I made an overnight trip to Chase County, Kansas and its Flint Hills. This adventure was also inspired by a book, William Least Heat-Moon's Prairy Earth. I found wide-open land and many small towns that are literally on their last leg along U.S. Highway 50. The Flint Hills are fantastic, nearly void of human presence, and not unlike the Sandhills of Nebraska.
I have three projects that are in various stages of completion.
Fontenelle, a series documenting my walks in Fontenelle Forest, is just about wrapped up. I hope to exhibit a selection of images from the project later this year. As I've said before, it's a big departure from much of what I've done so far. It makes me more than a little nervous to think about the reaction it may receive. Photographs from this series have been added to this new site design for the first time.
The yet-untitled exploration of the Loess Hills is nearly done as well. That is, I feel very good about what I have but still feel compelled to work further. The project now contains photographs dating back to 2010 and spans the entire western edge of the state of Iowa. It remains to be seen how this project will be exhibited, but I'm keeping my eyes open.
Oglala is a project that I just began work on in August of last year but am very excited about. This series documents the very far northwest corner of Nebraska's panhandle, centered on the Oglala National Grassland and moving from there. It's such a fantastic, open place, barren except for short blades of grass and the occasional trickle of a stream. I am very much looking forward to making it back in the next few months to continue work.
Thank you to everyone for your support. It is greatly appreciated.
Here's to another great year with interesting adventures and wonderful people. Enjoy it.