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. Virginia Beahan
For more than five decades, Barry Lopez explored the landscape through prose that offered a vivid and passionate account of our relationship with the natural world. His careful and conscientious descriptions of place were a critical inspiration for many artists, who discovered a sympathetic connection with his intimate understanding of the world around us. In recognition of Barry’s lasting inspiration, fifty photographers donated a collection of prints in his honor, selected in relation to entries in Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape, a “reader’s dictionary” of regional landscape terms compiled by Lopez and his wife, Debra Gwartney. In this volume, forty-five American writers — William deBuys, Barbara Kingsolver, William Kittredge, Jon Krakauer, Kim Stafford, Arthur Sze, and Joy Williams among them — explored our relationship with place and the value of local knowledge. They considered terms both familiar and evocative, such as alluvial fan, basin and range, blue hole, floodplain, mesa, lahar, swale, and sawtooth. In turn, the photographers in the collection sought resonances between these phrases and their own work – from badland and sandhills to old-growth forest and slot canyon – to evoke both specific locations and the distinctive character of American topography.
Photographers in the exhibition include Robert Adams, Virginia Beahan, Barbara Bosworth, Lois Conner, Linda Connor, Peter de Lory, Terry Evans, Frank Gohlke, Emmet Gowin, David T. Hanson, Alex Harris, Ron Jude, Mark Klett, Laura McPhee, Mary Peck, Edward Ranney, Mark Ruwedel, Joel Sternfeld, Bob Thall, and Geoff Winningham, among thirty others. From the quotidian to the mythic, their images trace the profile of the landscapes we call home and the ones that fill our imaginations. While American photography has spent much of its recent history exploring the “Man-altered landscape,” it never abandoned the pleasure to be found in the elegance and lyricism of the land itself. Together, these photographers have created a catalog of American places, from New England to the Great Lakes to the mountains and deserts of the West, offering vistas that are welcoming and inspiring, reassuring and at times ominous.
In an increasingly urbanized and screen-driven culture, we have often turned our backs on the places that have shaped and sustained us. In doing so, our vocabulary changed as well, becoming narrower and more homogenous. In Home Ground, Lopez sought to revitalize a language of place in order to re-connect us to our communities, our nation, and ourselves. From Here to the Horizon: Photographs in Honor of Barry Lopez shares much the same goal, celebrating the pleasures to be found in the land and seeking to renew our connection to the places that inspire our memories, hopes and desires.
From Here to the Horizon opens at the Sheldon Museum of Art, University of Nebraska – Lincoln on January 27, 2023 and is available to travel to four venues through 2025. The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with essays by Debra Gwartney, Toby Jurovics, and Robert Macfarlane.