In 1990, I began photographing the landscape and the lives of the people of the rural heartland, primarily spanning Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and Nebraska. Born and raised in Nebraska, drawn to my “roots,” this project has developed into a quest to record and express my vision of the many “Lives of Tradition” that I find as I travel and network across the country.
The core of this project is finding and recording ordinary people who are living and working in some ways that have changed little since the settling of the heartland of this country. This has brought me to the study of farmers and ranchers and small rural communities where the people are living these “lives of tradition.” Many of these lifestlyes are shrinking in numbers, so it is interesting to find people whose lives seem grounded in tradition, who find their vitality in long-standing ways of living. How long many of these traditional ways will continue is uncertain. But the spirit I have found among these people suggests many will continue.
Recently I have developed an interest in the still-existing culture of the “rural school house.” Since the spring of 2002, I have visited over 40 of these remote, rulral schools, developing a body of work relating to the lives and traditions of this vanishing culture.