For people who live on the American plains--the great grasslands of the central and western United States--the landscape is a familiar touchstone. We can all picture the endless expanses of grass and sky, the unobstructed views, and the geometric patterns of farm fields and repeating rows of crops. While less obviously dramatic than mountains or oceans, this landscape has inspired American artists for centuries.
Visions of the Plains features paintings that celebrate Midwestern landscapes, from the rolling hills of eastern Kansas to the flat farmlands around Chicago. The works explore the variety of emotions inspired by the countryside, from loneliness and isolation to feelings of freedom and oneness with nature. Visions of the Plains joins the documentary photography exhibition Kansas Land, opening September 29, in investigating life and art in the American Midwest.
What does the Kansas farm look like in 2018? What is life like for the fifth-generation farmer, working inherited land that has passed down over generations? What is life like for the first-generation, sustainable farmer?
Kansas Land features the recent work of two photographers, each working in collaboration with a team of researchers. Both Larry Schwarm's work on the National Science Foundation BACC:FLUD (Biofuels and Climate Change: Farmers’ Land Use Decisions) project and photographer Bryon Darby's imagery on The New Farmers Project with sociologist Paul Stock and designer Tim Hossler chronicle the life of farmers and the land they work in light of the social, economic, and environmental challenges of 2018.