Where am I? Following a cattle drive in Sioux County.
I have spent time at both the Montrose Catholic Church, as well as Ray Semroska’s home; that said, I found the presence of Ray’s headstone in the cemetery of the church, accompanied by a small visage of the Virgin, both eerie and telling. The Semroskas are perhaps 5 percent of the entire plots, and on their hill, those overlook the long, high prairie as its winds and time pass the tiny sets of gravestones–and the traditions they represent–quietly by.
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.
The Sioux County Courthouse serves fewer than 1,400 people in a county of almost 2,100 square miles. On a January afternoon in the building, Morris, a World War II veteran, was part of a group of residents who gathered to have their portraits taken by my Images of West Nebraska students. As he lolled about the foyer, waiting for his next session, I caught him as part of what I believe to be the most complicated, well-constructed image I’ve ever shot.
I think of this photograph as my own M. C. Escher. The stained glass window at the top of the image is a reflection of the window behind me; the diagonal lines, reflections, vanishing points and myriad lighting colors all combine to make a simple image that has a surreal quality. Those are almost always the most complicated, and my friend Sam Abell gave this shot a nice compliment: “That’s terrific.”