Rebecca Norris Webb
Rebecca Norris Webb
Issue No. 9 – September 2015
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“In 2005, I set out to photograph my home state of South Dakota, a sparsely populated frontier state on the Great Plains with more buffalo, pronghorn, coyotes, mule deer, ring-necked pheasants and prairie dogs than people. It’s a landscape dominated by space and silence and solitude, by brutal wind and extreme weather. I was trying to capture a more intimate and personal view of the West. I was trying to capture what all that space feels like to someone who grew up there. A year into the project, however, everything changed. One of my brothers died unexpectedly. For months, one of the few things that eased my unsettled heart was the landscape of South Dakota. It seemed all I could do was drive through the badlands and prairies and photograph. I began to wonder: Does loss have its own geography?
They say your first death is like your first love—and you’re never quite the same afterwards. After my brother died, my photographs started to change. They were more muted, often autumnal. I remember saying to the writer, Linda Hasselstrom at her ranch house near Hermosa, South Dakota, where I did much of the writing for the book, ‘I see summer, fall, and winter, in the photographs, but not spring.’
‘When you’re grieving, there isn’t any spring,’ Hasselstrom replied.”
Rebecca Norris Webb has published five photography books. Originally a poet, Rebecca often interweaves her text and photographs in her books, most notably with My Dakota — an elegy for her brother who died unexpectedly — with a solo exhibition of the work this past summer at The Cleveland Museum of Art. Her photographs have appeared in The New Yorker, Time, and Le Monde Magazine. “Memory City,” a joint project of hers with Alex Webb, is currently on exhibit at the Robert Koch Gallery, San Francisco, thru November 14, 2015.