Terry Evans: Matfield Green Stories
August 20 - November 27, 2011
Matfield Green is the focus of the most recent extended project by Terry Evans. The
small town is nestled in the Kansas Flint Hills with a population of fewer than 50.
Between 1990 and 1998 and again from 2008 to 2010, Evans photographed town residents
and the enduring beauty of the land. Her eloquent images convey an arresting and poetic
story of the prairie. Numerous models exist for how a photographer captures images
to express a particular setting. One striking example involved esteemed photographer
Walker Evans. In 1936 he and writer James Agee spent three weeks in Alabama, where
they lived with rural sharecroppers. Their project resulted in the 1941 book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, an American classic on rural poverty during the Great Depression. The artists were
foreign to their subject and gained access to its reality through a full-immersion
experience. Evans' ambitious project in Matfield Green clearly followed a different
method, and photographer Eugène Atget provides a more relevant tradition. Atget lived
in turn-of-the-century Paris and recorded the transition as ancient Paris faded and
a modern metropolis emerged. Atget's extended project reflects his keen eye for poignant
detail and strong humanism as he conveyed a remarkable story about place.
Matfield Green could be considered Evans' Paris. Her portrait of this community knits
within a larger, lifelong project devoted to the prairie experience. She isn't a roaming
photographer seeking the exotic. She shares the locals' reverence for the land as
a Missouri native and decades-long Kansas resident. Evans finds poetry in the commonplace.
Importantly, she relates the unusual as well as the homespun, and a richer picture
results. Upon viewing image after striking image, museum visitors will grasp the crux
of Terry Evans' prairie story of small-town life in rural Kansas.
Terry Evans is best known as a landscape photographer of Midwestern topography. When
the Nature Conservancy rounded up the leading photographers for a 2001 project on
the last great places, Evans was in the elite roster with Annie Liebovitz, Lee Friedlander,
Sally Mann, and esteemed others. The Guggenheim Foundation gave her its prestigious
artist award in 1996. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City is now working on the artist’s retrospective for 2012.
Terry Evans: Matfield Green Stories has been organized by the Ulrich Museum of Art and generously supported by Spirit
AeroSystems, Emprise Bank and Fleeson Gooing Attorneys at Law.
The exhibition has been made possible through the generous support of Richard D. Smith
and Sondra Langel,
Ed and Helen Healy, Rex and Denise Irwin, Ron and Lee Starkel and Keith and Georgia
Downloadable PDF of the Terry Evans gallery guide