Galleries of Contemporary Art

WILLIAM WYLIE: American Places

August 6–October 22, 2010


Happenings

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In the exhibition American Places, William Wylie focuses on the concept of place; how we respond to the landscape, how we move from the general to the specific in our personal associations with it, and how our lives are interwoven into the histories of places. In his work over the past twenty years, Wylie has balanced a striking formal sensibility with a dedication to a documentary role for his photography. In this respect, his photographs are marked by both intensity and dispassion.

For the two bodies of work represented in this exhibition Wylie used a landscape feature to create an itinerary by which to document the place, in both cases a pathway. One is a river, the Cache la Poudre River in northern Colorado, the other a two-lane highway, Route 36, traversing northern Kansas from border to border. By using an established geographical reference as a trajectory into the landscape Wylie accepts his route as a given. Concomitantly, these photographs document the personal experiences of the photographer. He spent four years working on each project, traveling (and in the case of the Poudre River, walking) the entire lengths of the commons. With this in mind, they can’t be viewed as only referencing the places themselves but also as locating a moment in time when a specific individual stood in front of a subject that mattered. That relationship is always paramount in Wylie’s images.