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Red Desert, Green Prairie, Blue Sky

3/12/2012
Jennifer Heinicke, Special Projects Librarian | JHeinicke@wichita.gov | (316) 261-8524

National Travelling Exhibit at Central Library Shows Regional Landscape

"Red Desert, Green Prairie, Blue Sky: Photographing the West" opens Saturday, March 24, at the Wichita Public Library, 223 S. Main. An opening reception will be held at 2:30 p.m., Sunday, March 25. The free exhibit is typically available during business hours, Saturday, March 24, through Monday, April 30.

This striking national traveling exhibit documents the cultural landscape of the Great Plains. Eight artists use photography to record the impact of human settlement on these largely untouched landscapes as individuals and companies have tapped into their agricultural potential or energy resources. Collectively, the photographs track the intervals of settlement, steady population decline, and environmental costs of these efforts as pictured in the land, buildings, artifacts, and current occupants of these geographical regions.

George Jerkovich’s panoramic scenes memorialize the diversity of the Kansas prairie—from the rolling hills of the Dakota Sandstone region to the flat, semi-arid plains. Alternatively his photographs capture the evolution of Kansas agriculture as reflected in images of sunflower-dotted green prairies, expansive wheat fields, and dying small towns.

Martin Stupich’s photographs document the transformation of southern Wyoming’s Red Desert from a remote half-million acres of wilderness steppe to gas fields and coal mines—a development that threatens an ecosystem the photographer describes “as frail as a scrim.”

Six photographers combine forces to document the impact of history, culture, and geography on the Llano Estacado of northwest Texas and eastern New Mexico. Their images reflect the rich history and culture that lives on in the wide expanse of hardscrabble canyon and grass. They show the region's distinctive ethnic and religious mix, its sparse surface water and its once expansive but now diminishing aquifer.

The exhibition is organized and toured by ExhibitsUSA, a national program of Mid-America Arts Alliance. For more information on the exhibit, visit the Wichita Public Library at www.wichita.lib.ks.us.

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