+ I WANT US TO GO WEST
Fine Art Photographs by Rebecca Sullivan
Long drives to visit relatives were a common ritual in my Montana childhood. My relatives lived then and now in towns around the West, places like like Three Forks, Geraldine, Dillon, Salem, and Bremerton. I'm often restless to be on the open road.
My dearest memories were born on long car trips, my freckled nose pressed against the window of our Plymouth station wagon with dad behind the wheel. I was trans-fixed by landscapes of rivers, mountains and abandoned homesteads. We camped and fished at Yellowstone and rarely missed summer melodramas in Virginia City.
I was born and raised in Butte, a scarred and colorful mining town whose prosperity over 150 years has risen or fallen depending on the price of copper, one of the first metals extracted and most utilized today. Our home was adjacent to railroad tracks owned by the Anaconda Company. Day and night the trains carried raw minerals to be processed at a smelter some 30 miles away.
Excursions and vistas from our windows exposed me daily to comforting if arguably hideous detritus of an industrial city (mine tailings, headframes, decrepit houses, slag heaps) commingled with lonely, exquisite panoramas that edged the town, a bizarre juxtaposition that continues even now to influence my aesthetic and outlook My father cherished Butte's physical geography and contributions to the U.S. economy. To make a living he sold equipment to corporations that plundered his precious earth
I tell people of Dad's enormous attachment, and some can comprehend his bullish regard for the town. People are often cruel in their comments. To love Montana does not take special imagination, but appreciating Butte is more difficult. When I meet individuals who are empathetic and informed after experiencing the imposing and monstrous Berkeley Pit, it's fantastic to talk about history and the nature of change.
These days, based in Seattle, I travel and photograph the West. The images in my LANDSCAPES portfolios draw from the influences of my childhood. I love WPA art, especially the realist painters in the 30's and 40's and see similarities in my work I want to make original art that doesn't exploit disfigurement inherent in ordinary places. Flawless pictures do exist around the bend. I thrill to discover amazing scenes in optimum light, but ultimately I prefer to explore discordant narratives I focus my camera on small, seemingly insignificant details that others overlook.