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Gone: Photographs of Abandonment on the High Plains by Steve Fitch

Steve Fitch and His Project

Award-winning photographer Steve Fitch teaches photography at the Marion Center for Photographic Arts at the College of Santa Fe in New Mexico. His work has been shown in numerous exhibitions and is in many museum collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, Harvard University, and the San Francisco Museum of Fine Arts.

Anyone who has ever traveled by car through the Great Plains has seen the empty buildings that Steve Fitch photographed during the final decades of the twentieth century. Now his haunting photographs let us inside the melancholy beauty of what’s left behind.

Fitch has focused his lens on interiors rather than on the more familiar architectural silhouettes that stand out against the empty landscape. There are churches, schools and dance halls, but mostly homes. Visible everywhere is the detritus (waste) of daily life left, as if someone will soon return: a coffee cup, a child’s drawing, a television set.

Settlers were attracted to the Great Plains during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but most did not stay. Some left even before the Dust Bowl, and much of the rural High Plains is still losing population. The very climate that drove people away now preserves the evidence of their presence. The remaining artifacts are what the artist refers to as the archeology of abandonment, "the ruins of my own generation."

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Gone: Photographs of Abandonment on the High Plains by Steve Fitch
Beach Museum of Art, February 1-April 10, 2005

Programming supported by the 
Kansas Arts Commission and the Bramlage Family Foundation