Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Photographer captures the changing landscape of the American West

From 2006 to 2013 New York-raised photographer Lucas Foglia traveled the American West, mainly in Texas, New Mexico, Nevada, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, taking pictures of a region whose land and people were vastly different from what he expected them to be, Rena Silverman reports for The New York Times. (Foglia photo: Rowdy horse training in 2012 in Deeth, Nev.)

He found "that two stories occurred in these areas—and few dealt with his original expectation of 'nomadic cowboys on horseback,'" Silverman writes. "One concerned the wild landscape itself, with its ranchers and farmers. The other was that of the mining and energy development boom, its workers and how that economic force was transforming the landscape."

He witnessed economic booms and busts, through coal, oil and natural gas and found that people are more than just stereotypes, Silverman writes. He told Silverman, “I expected cowboys to be nomads, herding animals over a wild landscape. I learned pretty quickly that most ranchers had homes with mortgages. I also learned that every mine closes eventually. When a mine closes, the company leaves and people have to move. Miners are the modern-day nomads, following jobs across the country.”

In the time he spent out West, Foglia "saw a lot of changes, each occurring at a different pace," Silverman writse. "Sometimes, it was the rapid change of weather. Other times, the price of gold, and still other times, it was the homes where people lived, or the jobs that came and went. All of this left him with one question: 'What is going to allow people to continue to live in the rural American West and how are we going to preserve or use the wild land we have left?'" Foglia's photos are in his collection "Frontcountry."

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