Sunteți pe pagina 1din 5


The Plains[3]
Artist Statement
We tend to define the plains by what is absent, checking maps to find how far we have to drive before we get to somethingto
mountains in the West or cities in the East. What, after all, are we to make of wheat fields, one-horse towns, and sky?
Mystery in this landscape is a certainty, an eloquent one. There is everywhere silencea silence in thunder, in wind, in the call of
doves, even a silence in the closing of a pickup door. If you are crossing the plains, leave the interstate and find a back road on which
to walk; listen.
R.A., 1978[4]
Artist Statement
glunda, July 12: The old family house is centered beneath big trees. Behind it, a wooded hill from which one can see Lake Vnern
forty miles away. Nearbyhay fields, farm wagons, cherry orchards, stone fences, one dirt auto road lacking a straight kilometer, a
stone church (next to which Kerstins grandmother is buried; she was born on the farm adjacent to this one), a lake, flocks of
blackbird . . .
R.A., 1968[6]
Late Hispanic Settlement[7]
Artist Statement
At Viejo San Acacio, mass is observed in a church dating from 1856; outside, the only sounds are as they must have been earlierof
the wind, and the flat, soft ring of sheep bells. To go inside, in the brilliance and heat of a July day, is to discover stillness. Shadows
are soft and the temperature mild. Few buildings give so strong a feeling of sanctuary as do early, thick-walled adobes.
R.A., 1974[8]
Artist Statement
Eden, Colorado, is named after a railroad official and not the Biblical paradise. To the east of the interstate highway that bisects it are
railroad tracks, gas tanks, and a prefabricated metal shed. To the west, a roadhouse (closed), a military salvage lot, a car-wrecking
yard, and the Westland truck stop. Extending beyond along the freeway are billboards advertising whiskey, real estate, and ice.
R.A., 1968[10]
The New West[11][12]
Artist Statement
Many have asked, pointing incredulously toward a sweep of tract homes and billboards, why picture that? The question sounds simple,
but it implies a difficult issuewhy open our eyes anywhere but in undamaged places like national parks?
One reason is, of course, that we do not live in parks, that we need to improve things at home, and that to do it we have to see the facts
without blinking. We need to watch, for example, as an old woman, alone, is forced to carry her groceries in August heat over a fifty
acre parking lot; then we know, safe from the comforting lies of profiteers, that we must begin again.
Paradoxically, however, we also need to see the whole geography, natural and man-made, to experience a peace; all land, no matter
what has happened to it, has over it a grace, an absolutely persistent beauty.
R.A., 1974[13]
What We Bought[14]

Artist Statement
Denver was founded in 1861 by gold seekers. Its history has been a cycle of booms and depressions. Among the most startling
periods of growth occurred in the 1960s and 1970s, when Colorados oil and military and tourist industries all prospered, and when
businesses from throughout the United States relocated to Denver at the request of employees who were attracted by the regions
natural beauty.In a few years, however, the areas ruin would be testament to a bargain we had tried to strike. The pictures record what
we purchased, what we paid, and what we could not buy. They document a separation from ourselves, and in turn from the natural
world that we professed to love.
R.A., 1995[15]
From the Missouri West[16]
Artist Statement
Exploration of the West began in the nineteenth century at the Missouri River. On its banks pioneers understood themselves to be at
the edge of a sublime landscape, one that they believed would be redemptive. My own ancestors, as it happens, settled along the
river, and my grandfather made enthusiastic trips onto the Dakota prairies to make panoramic photographs. For these reasons, and
because I had lost my way in the suburbs, I decided to try to rediscover some of the land forms that had impressed our forebears. Was
there remaining in the geography a strength that might help sustain us as it had them?
R.A., 1980[17]
Summer Nights[18]
Artist Statement
Still photographs often differ from life more by their silence than by the immobility of their subjects. Landscape pictures tend to
converge with life, however, on summer nights, when the sounds outside, after we call in children and close garage doors, are small
the whir of moths, the snap of a stick.
R.A., 1985[19]
Artist Statement
On the D&RG Railroad south out of Walsenburg, Colorado, there stand the remains of a small coal-mining community named Ludlow
three abandoned shacks and a monument put up by the United Mine Workers.
I drove eighty miles out of my way one morning in order to photograph the memoriala statue of a man, woman, and child. The site is
lonely, a nondescript place on dry flats; that day the wind blew, the sun was cold, and my equipment was unfamiliar. I found myself
saying over and over again, please, just give me these pictures.
R.A., 1981[21]
Our Parents, Our Children[22]
Artist Statement
American nuclear and thermonuclear bombs are equipped with plutonium detonators manufactured at the Rocky Flats Nuclear
Weapons Plant. The factory is located ten miles upwind from Denver, Colorado.
Armaments built at risk to Denver become part of a worldwide system so open to error and malfunction that it is reasonable to believe
many of us will, at a scarcely imaginable but exact time, die from them.
If we confront this conclusion we want almost at once to give up, to be free of what seems impossible hope. When we can find in
ourselves the will to keep asking questions of politicians, it is, I think, after we have noticed the individuals with whom we live. How

mysteriously absolute each is. How many achieve, in moments of reflection or joy or concern, a kind of heroism. Each refutes the idea
of acceptable losses.
R.A., 1983[23]
Los Angeles Spring[24]
Artist Statement
Southern California was, by the reports of those who lived there at the turn of the century, beautiful; there were live oaks on the hills,
orchards across the valleys, and ornamental cypress, palms, and eucalyptus lining the roads. Even now we can almost extrapolate an
Eden from what has lastedfrom the architecture of old eucalyptus trunks, for example, and from the astringent perfume of the trees
flowers as it blends with the sweetness of orange blossoms.
What citrus remain today, however, are mostly abandoned, scheduled for removal, and large eucalyptus have often been vandalized,
like the hundreds west of Fontana that have been struck head high with shotgun fire.
Whether those trees that stand are reassuring is a question for a lifetime. All that is clear is the perfection of what we were given, the
unworthiness of our response, and the certainty, in view of our current deprivation, that we are judged.
R.A., 1986[25]
Artist Statement
I often think of a line by Edward Thomas, trees and usimperfect friends. Cottonwoods have been our friends for a long while. The
Arapaho believed that the stars came from cottonwoods, from the glistening sap at the joints of twigs. Immigrant wagon trains followed
along from one grove to the next, with cottonwoods serving as landmarks, shelter, and fuel. But the human side of this friendship has
weakened. Agribusiness now wages wars on cottonwoods because the trees compete for water, and suburban developers replace
them with conveniently small but ecologically disruptive species like Russian olive. Main Street in Longmont used to be lined with
cottonwoods, but they were all cut down.
R.A., 1994[27]
The Pawnee National Grassland[28]
Artist Statement
The Pawnee National Grassland, where these pictures were taken, is a reserve established during the 1930s in northeastern Colorado
to rehabilitate a part of the dust bowl. Though recovery has been incomplete, and though in the summer the land is rented to the cattle
industry, in April and May it is spacious. It has a long history and future. The birds that rise from the grass seem almost weightless.
R.A., 1988[29]
Along Some Rivers[30]
Artist Statement
In middle age I revisited a number of marginal but beautiful landscapes that I had taken for granted when I was a boy. As I walked
through them I sometimes asked myself whether in coming years they would survive overpopulation, corporate capitalism, and new
technology. On those days when I was lucky, however, my questions fell away into the quiet and the light.
It has been many years now since I left Colorado, and occasionally friends there tell me of what has been lost. We share our griefs, but
not infrequently the conversation turns to recollecting scarcely believable gloriesnear miraclesand we pledge to look again.
R.A., 2010[31]
The Pacific[32]

Artist Statement
Of all the sacred places on the coast, none is more comforting than where rivers join the sea. By the rivers disappearance we are
reminded of lifes passing, while by the oceans beauty we accept it, in a hope we cannot explain.
At the end of the Columbia River there is an especially complex weaving of suggestion. This is the farthest point to which Lewis and
Clark traveled in their exploration of the American frontier. Today the shore of the estuary is becoming crowded with human activity
there are condominiums, malls, airports, mooring basinseven while the estuary itself remains home to a reduced but still significant
population of marine animals. The air is usually clean, but the river carries dioxins from paper mills and radionuclides from the Hanford
Nuclear Reservation.
R.A., 1995[33]
Turning Back[34]
Artist Statement
More than ninety percent of the original forest in the American Northwest has been clearcut at least once. The large stumps in these
pictures are remnants of an ancient woods where trees commonly grew to be five hundred or more years old. The small stumps are
what is left of a recently harvested monoculture, an industrial forest sustained by artificial fertilizers and selective herbicides and cut
in its infancy.
Will this practice eventually exhaust the soil and end in permanent deforestation? There are numerous areas in the world where this
has happened, among them parts of China, a country that has recently banned clearcutting. Efforts to restrict clearcutting in the
American Northwest have, however, mostly failed.As I recorded these scenes, I found myself asking many questions, among them:
What of equivalent value have we inherited in exchange for the original forest?
Is there a relationship between clearcutting and war, the landscape of one being in some respects like the landscape of the other?
Does clearcutting originate in disrespect? Does it teach violence? Does it contribute to nihilism?
Why did I almost never meet parents walking here with their children?
R.A., 2005[35]
Artist Statement
Gandhara was a historical region in what is now Pakistan and Afghanistan. It was located on the route by which Buddhism was
transmitted out of India to China, and was also, in 327 B.C., the easternmost area to which Alexander the Great brought Hellenistic
culture. Gandharan art often depicts Buddhist subjects but does so in a style that reflects both Western and Eastern iconographic
traditions.The pictures are of a fragment of Gandharan sculpture that measures just 7 1/2 x 5 1/2 x 6 inches. It is made of stucco, was
once painted, and dates from the second to third century A.D. The representation is of an ideala bodhisattva, a person who
understands but who has chosen to remain involved in life on behalf of others.
R.A., 2001[37]
Pine Valley[38]
Artist Statement
Four hundred and fifty miles east of the Pacific, near what was once the Oregon Trail, there is a small community in Baker County
named Halfway. Kerstin and I were unexpectedly befriended there by a person who invited us to stay in her home, a sanctuary amid
apple trees, pastures, and cottonwoods. We were reminded, as the days passed, of Edward Thomass ideal, of a garden I need never
go beyond.
Photography is inherently fragmentary, and I find I base my faith on perfect moments.

R.A., 2005[39]
Alder Leaves[40]
Artist Statement
What would account for the condition of the leavesdrought, insects, rocky ground, disease, herbicide, wind?
Are the leaves beautiful?
Is there something wry in the hieroglyphics? And something humorous about a person taking photographs, the camera handheld,
between gusts of wind?
R.A., 2007[41]
Sea Stories, This Day[42]
Artist Statement
The trees stand on a hillside exposed to the prevailing wind. Even on a quiet afternoon the trunks sway a little.
Stanley Elkin suggested that all books are the Book of Job, and in general he was right. Certainly many writers and picture makers
want to repeat in a fresh way what the voice out of the whirlwind said, that we are not the creator, and that rather than ask an
explanation we ought to attend an inventory of wondersthe Pleiades, the morning star, the sun, the rain, the grass, the raven, the
whale. Common to each is beauty. And so a promise.
R.A., 2009[43]