I wandered into the Semroska’s kitchen as my class made portraits of Ray and Doreen, life ranchers in western Nebraska. Ray’s lunch of fried chicken, potatoes and gravy sat waiting on the stove, and with it I found the winter prairie colored paint in the room a tempting combination for a photo.
I often look for irony in my surroundings, but seldom am I given this kind of palette. On a cold, windy day in Harrison, Nebraska (there are many cold, windy days there), I tried to show the interaction between rural decline, wind, landscape and culture in an image fraught with contradictions.
One element crucial to the “PlainSky, Nebraskans” project is wind and how it defines the colors, textures and landscapes of western Nebraska. This Buick, fence and group of outbuildings have sat dormant in the outskirts of Harrison for years, and on a January morning, the unrelenting gale that is a year-round, uncounted resident of the town tore at the fence and prairie grass enveloping it.