Ansley West Rivers

Santa Elena Canyon, Rio Grande River, Big Bend National Park, Texas, 2018

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Archival Pigment Print
24.0 x 30.0 in (61.0 x 76.2 cm)
Signed on label


This work ships from New York, NY, US.


From the series Seven Rivers.
"Five years ago, I gave myself an assignment to photograph seven rivers, from source to sea, across the United States. The profound experiences afforded by my journeys up and down each river have transformed my life. The rivers have embedded themselves into my being, shaping my role as mother, wife and artist. Water has woven its stories into my own, making it important to not only depict its narrative, but to let it seep into myself.

The Colorado, Missouri, Mississippi, Columbia, Rio Grande, Tuolumne, Altamaha, and the Hudson are the rivers I chose to photograph as they represent watersheds that have shaped major regions and cities across the United States. As I witness the beauty, degradation, triumph, solitude and the numerous changes occurring on all rivers, I have come to view our watersheds with expanding emotion. The struggle to depict the complicated waterscapes has inspired new ways of photographing with my large format camera. I create compositions on each negative to depict an intimacy rather than documentation. My photographs are constructed landscapes echoing the reality of civilizations impact on the earth, but also celebrating the beauty that exists even in the most fraught ecosystems.

I am entangled within a long history of American photographers working in the landscape. Their images echo in my head with every shot. I have climbed mountains, floated streams and slept at campgrounds visited by these same artists. I too have lugged heavy equipment and negatives on my back in order to capture the landscapes that support us both physically and emotionally. I am not shooting to lure people out West, prove the magic of live oaks or depict the novelty of wilderness, my goal differs as it is directed by the present. I too seek to depict the beauty that exists within every river-bend, but I no longer see the infinite, I am faced with the finite. In my compositions, I create within the context of the past and the present to bring more clearly into view the lifespan of fresh water, with the hope of not creating evidence of landscapes lost. "
-Ansley West Rivers.

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