Sept. 2–Dec. 17, 2022
"In the fall of 2020 after months of isolation due to the pandemic, I decided to create high quality large format portraits of people who, like me, hadn’t seen anyone socially in many months. The work was done in a backyard natural light alcove that I built, which harkened back to typical nineteenth-century portrait settings. I posted an invitation on Facebook hoping for a few takers. In the end 93 people participated. Most were enthusiastic about a safe distance visit and having a nice picture or two. But as we talked it became clear to me that there was a lot going on emotionally for all of us. You won’t find many of those conversational details in the self-reported statements accompanying the images. But the content of those brief masked conversations is and was compelling. And the sharing of those intimate details is the biggest reward for the effort for me. Folks told me things that I wouldn’t pass on just like the priest is bound to silence of what passes across the screen of the confessional. I’m grateful for the trust and the shared stories. And so together we made a ritual of making an image of these times written on these bodies and faces, “an outward and visible sign of inward and spiritual grace…” A sacrament in light struck silver."
Above: Michael Farrell, Rachel Prosser, 2020, archival inkjet print, courtesy of the artist
Banner: Michael Farrell, Kim Morrow, 2020, archival inkjet print, courtesy of the artist
Field Guide to a Hybrid Landscape
Sept. 2, 2022–March 11, 2023
In Field Guide to a Hybrid Landscape, Dana Fritz’s photographs make visible the forces that shaped the Bessey Ranger District of the Nebraska National Forest and Grasslands, once the world’s largest hand-planted forest. Wind, water, planting, thinning, burning, decomposing, and sowing all contribute to its environmental history. A conifer forest was overlaid onto a semi-arid grassland just west of the 100th meridian in an ambitious late nineteenth-century idea to create a timber industry, and to change the local climate. This unique experiment of row-crop trees that were protected from the natural cycle of fire for decades, yet never commercially harvested for timber, provides a rich metaphor for our current environmental predicaments. This late nineteenth-century effort to reclaim with trees what was called “The Great American Desert” has evolved to a focus on twenty-first-century conservation, grassland restoration, and reforestation, all of which work to sequester carbon, maintain natural ecosystem balance, and mitigate large-scale climate change. Dana Fritz is Hixson-Lied Professor of Art at UNL. She is the author of Field Guide to a Hybrid Landscape (forthcoming from University of Nebraska Press in January 2023).
Above: Dana Fritz, Forest Edge, 2021, archival pigment print, courtesy of the artist.
Banner: Dana Fritz, Ponderosa Pine and Sandhills, 2019, archival pigment print, courtesy of the artist