Life and Shadow on the Great Plains
The numbers of farms and farmers on the Great Plains are dwindling. Disappearing even faster are the farm places--the houses, barns, and outbuildings that made the rural landscape a place of habitation. Nancy Warner's photographs tell the stories of buildings that were once loved yet have now been abandoned. Her evocative images are juxtaposed with the voices of Nebraska farm people, lovingly recorded by sociologist David Stark. These plainspoken recollections tell of a way of life that continues to evolve in the face of wrenching change.
Warner's spare, formal photographs invite readers to listen to the cadences and tough-minded humor of everyday speech in the Great Plains. Stark's afterword grounds the project in the historical relationship between people and their land. In the tradition of Wright Morris, this combination of words and images is both art and document, evoking memories, emotions, and questions for anyone with rural American roots.
I was very moved by this evocative, literate, and informative book. Warner's beautiful--and painful--photographs are a perfect companion to Stark's writing and the 'voices' of the Nebraskans that are included. I am very grateful for this sensitive and sad look back.
Ruth Silverman, former associate curator of the International Center of Photography and two-time winner of the Photography-Book-of-the-Year award for The Dog and Athletes
The photographs and the words so beautifully preserved here evoke powerful--and indeed painful--memories of the homes left behind when millions of rural Americans packed up, said good-bye to all they had known, and relocated to the nation's cities and suburbs. The memory of that transition continues for many of us, tearing at our hearts.
Robert Wuthnow, author of Remaking the Heartland: Middle America Since the 1950s
This marvelous book offers us a glimpse of the ghost of the Great Plains as it makes a last appearance. We ought to be immensely grateful to David Stark and Nancy Warner for inviting us to their deeply moving séance.
Ted Kooser, former U.S. Poet Laureate
These resonant photographs and recollections evoke a world almost gone from American life. They are as filled with time as old monuments, and as moving.
Richard Rhodes, Pulitzer Prize-winning author
Warner's exquisite and haunting images are like memory itself: fragments that the imagination weaves together into a meaningful whole.
Martha Casanave, photographer
A melancholy, touching look at a vanishing way of life.
Sarah Bryan Miller
Each photo presents a snapshot of a place vacated. Together, they tell a larger story of an America fading into the landscape.... Conversations, captured by Stark, are sprinkled throughout the book, bringing insight and understated humor to the inanimate beauty of Warner's photographs.
A moving collection... The country and the book are spacious, the stories are moving, and the photographs are wonderful.
PrefacePhotographs and VoicesAfterwordList of PhotographsList of VoicesAcknowledgments
Read an excerpt and view photographs from This Place, These People:
FINALIST - 2014 High Plains Book Award in Art & Photography, Billings (Montana) Public Library