My Camera at the Head of Sinbad, San Rafael Swell, Utah 5/22/93, by Mark Klett

From Here to the Horizon: Photographs in Honor
of Barry Lopez

Curated by Toby Jurovics

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We employ domestic animals (hogback ridge), domestic equipment (kettle moraine), food (basket-of-eggs relief), furniture (looking-glass prairie), clothing (the aprons of a bajada), and, extensively ourselves: a neck of land, an arm of the sea, rock nipples, the toe of a slope, the mouth of a river, a finger drift, the shoulder of a road. We do this intentionally, to make what is separate from us a part of who we are. We put a geometry to the land—backcountry, front range, high desert—and pick our patterns in it: pool and riffle, swale and rise, basin and range. We make it remote (north forty), vivid (bird-foot delta), and humorous (detroit riprap). It is a language that keeps us from slipping off into abstract space.
    – Barry Lopez, Home Ground: A Guide to the American Landscape
 

Introduction

The 17 photographs in this ARTerrain gallery have been selected from the exhibition From Here to the Horizon: Photographs in Honor of Barry Lopez, currently on view at the Sheldon Museum of Art, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The exhibition and its accompanying catalog present work by 50 leading American landscape photographers—friends, peers, and admirers—assembled in recognition of the life and influence of Barry Lopez (1945-2020). Winner of the National Book Award for Arctic Dreams: Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape, Lopez was the author of over two dozen books of fiction and nonfiction and numerous wide-ranging essays. Recognized for his “glittering, mica-like prose poetry,” he was one of our most highly regarded writers about our intimate relationship with the landscape and a touchstone for a diverse community of writers and artists.

Above the Gilkey Trench, Camp 18, Juneau Icefield, Alaska
Above the Gilkey Trench, Camp 18, Juneau Icefield, Alaska, 2018.
Photo by Ben Huff.

The images in the exhibition and catalog are a kind of call and response, selected by the photographers in conversation with Home Ground: A Guide to the American Landscape, the “reader’s dictionary” of geographic terms Lopez compiled with Debra Gwartney. Lopez often wrote about authority of the land itself—its “factual testimony”—and it was in the affection we have for our landscape that American photog­raphy discovered its character, speaking with a clarity and precision that reflected the boldness of its geography as well as its elegance and lyricism, even in places that might otherwise be considered ordinary or unremarkable. The rise and fall of our topography, our rivers and canyons, meadows and valleys, the profile of our mountains against the hori­zon have always been seen as inspirational and redemptive. Standing as a marker of the admiration and affection of Barry’s friends and colleagues, it is hoped that From Here to the Horizon will also spark our imagination—for places we remember, or hope to one day visit, or may never see yet carry with us thanks to a carefully written verse or a well-made photograph.

 


ARTerrain Gallery
From Here to the Horizon

Photographs in Honor of Barry Lopez

All photographs courtesy collection of Sheldon Museum of Art, Sheldon Art Association, the Home Ground Collection: Gift of the artist in honor of Barry Lopez. Images in this gallery may not be copied or otherwise used without express written consent. Click image to view in larger size.
 


Select Artist Statements

Virginia Beahan
Barry Lopez’s writing has been a major influence for me—I carried Arctic Dreams around for years, sharing passages and ideas from it with anyone who would listen. What impressed me so much about Barry’s writing, and Arctic Dreams in particular, was the slow-moving attention to detail. I felt like he was with me, using his version of a view camera—or I was with him—as he studied and thought about and tried to make sense of the world.

Barbara Bosworth
The night I made Moon Rising, the Night the Bird was Singing, the air was misty. At midnight, the moon was rising above the treetops. A bird in the tree next to me began singing loud and clear, its song a glorious serenade as I worked. The singing continued still as I took my leave from the meadow hours later as dawn approached. Barry Lopez’s writing taught me that photographs, like words, can hold the unseen, the invisible. That song, like that moonlight, is forever embedded in this image.

Terry Evans
Layers of use, layers of loss and recovery and loss again, vestiges. These photographs are neither a critique of land use nor a statement about the irony of its beauty. The photographs are not about abstract visual design; they are about specific places. They show marks that contain contradictions and mysteries that raise questions about how we live on the prairie. All of these places are beautiful to me, perhaps because all land is beautiful.

Ben Huff
Shortly after moving to Juneau from the Interior, I worked on a set of pictures at the Mendenhall Glacier. I struggled with the landscape, as I tried to illustrate the gulf I felt between the joy of seeing that glacier for the first time, and the sense of mourning I felt with each subsequent trip. Years later, my curiosity drew me back to a need to explore that vast blue space and eventually to the Juneau Icefield Research Program. Through the students of the program—these young scientists, teachers, artists, and advocates—I have found a small degree of hope.

Mark Klett
I first met Barry in 1989 at a memorial for writer Edward Abbey, held outdoors near Moab, Utah, east of where this photo was taken. The event was unpublicized, spread by word of mouth to friends, family, lovers of the canyonlands, writers, and wilderness warriors who had been influenced by Abbey. There were hundreds in attendance and Barry was one of the speakers. Afterwards I approached him, and he said to me privately that the only thing useful about being celebrated was that it gave one the ability to introduce people to others they were unaware of, but should know—that it was important to use notoriety to enable connections that could create a difference.

Peter Latner
Trempealeau County in western Wisconsin is bluff country—hilly, rugged, steep. It’s what the glaciers missed. The swale in the picture is part of the Mississippi River valley itself, in descent. Off in the distance the river is barely visible — that’s how wide the valley is. And at dusk, it’s perfectly still.

Laura McPhee
A man drives a quad across a pasture to a ditch edged with daisies. He digs sod until water flows into the ditch and across a blue plastic tarp weighted with stones. Redirected to grow grass for cattle, the water comes from a stream originating in the White Cloud Mountains. The man might stop to survey the worm fences that mark private land. He might glance toward the Sawtooth Mountains and public land his family helped preserve. He might consider a time when there were no fences or ditches and Shoshones hunted elk, pronghorn, and salmon on their summer range.
 

 

Toby JurovicsToby Jurovics is founding director of the Barry Lopez Foundation for Art & Environment. He was chief curator and curator of American Western art at Joslyn Art Museum from 2011 to 2020; prior to this, he was a curator of photography at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Princeton University Art Museum. An expert on American landscape photography, he has curated over 50 monographic and group exhibitions of photography, painting, works on paper, and new media.

From Here to the Horizon: Photographs in Honor of Barry Lopez is currently on view at the Sheldon Museum of Art, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, through May 26, 2023, and again from August 18 to December 21, 2023.

All photographs courtesy collection of Sheldon Museum of Art, Sheldon Art Association, the Home Ground Collection: Gift of the artist in honor of Barry Lopez.

The accompanying exhibition catalog with essays by Toby Jurovics, Debra Gwartney, and Robert Macfarlane, From Here to the Horizon: Photographs in Honor of Barry Lopez, was published in February 2023 and is available from Trinity University Press.

For more information on the Barry Lopez Foundation for Art & Environment, please see: www.barrylopezfoundation.org.

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