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The Home Ground Collection: Photographs in Honor of Writer Barry Lopez

Photograph by Laura McPhee: “Irrigator’s Tarp Directing Water, Fourth of July Creek Ranch, Custer County, Idaho,” 2004, The Home Ground Collection: Gift of the artist in honor of Barry Lopez, Sheldon Museum of Art.
Laura McPhee, Irrigator's Tarp Directing Water, Fourth of July Creek Ranch, Custer County, Idaho (detail), 2004.

Sheldon Museum of Art will be the repository for the Home Ground Collection, a group of more than ninety works donated by fifty American photographers to honor the writer Barry Lopez, who died in 2020 at age seventy-five.

For more than five decades, Lopez wrote about the landscape in lyrical prose that offered a vivid and passionate account of humankind’s relationship with the natural world. Best known for Arctic Dreams: Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape, which received the National Book Award for Nonfiction in 1986, Lopez was the author of dozens of essays and works of fiction and nonfiction, including the recently released Embrace Fearlessly the Burning World.

Toby Jurovics, director of the Barry Lopez Foundation for Art & Environment, praised the photographers who came together to honor Lopez’s life and influence: “When the Home Ground Collection was first proposed, the response was immediate and enthusiastic. Barry was a guidepost for so many writers and artists, and this collection is but one reflection of the affection and respect of his friends and colleagues.”

Barry Lopez, Eugene, Oregon, August 5, 2020, © Ron Jude.

Lopez’s careful and conscientious descriptions of place provided inspiration for many artists who found a sympathetic connection with his intimate understanding of the world around us. Virginia Beahan, one of the photographers who donated work to the Home Ground Collection, carried a copy of “Arctic Dreams” with her for years. Noting Lopez’s meticulous attention to detail, she said, “I felt like he was with me, using his version of a view camera — or I was with him — as he studied and thought about and tried to make sense the world.”

In addition to Beahan, the photographers listed below donated prints in honor of Lopez.

The collection marks the realization of Lopez’s long-held desire to create a photographic companion to Home Ground: A Guide to the American Landscape, a reader’s dictionary of regional landscape terms that he compiled with Debra Gwartney in 2006. In that volume, forty-five American writers — William deBuys, Robert Haas, Barbara Kingsolver, Kim Stafford, Arthur Sze, and Joy Williams among them — created more than 850 original definitions for words that describe our lands and waters. They considered familiar and evocative terms such as “alluvial fan,” “basin and range,” “blue hole,” “floodplain,” and “mesa.”

In turn, the photographers in the Home Ground Collection sought resonances between these phrases and their own work. Prompted by terms such as “badlands,” “confluence,” “hanging valley,” “sawtooth,” and “swale” that evoke both specific locations and the distinctive character of American topography, their photographs trace the shape of the landscapes we call home and the ones that fill our imaginations. Together, these places form a history of who we are as a nation, our aspirations, and our desires.

Sheldon Museum of Art and the Barry Lopez Foundation for Art & Environment have organized an exhibition of the Home Ground Collection titled From Here to the Horizon: Photographs in Honor of Barry Lopez. The exhibition, which will have its inaugural presentation at Sheldon from January 27 through June 30, 2023, is accompanied by a fully illustrated exhibition catalogue, with contributions from Debra Gwartney, Robert Macfarlane, and Toby Jurovics.


Robert Adams
Virginia Beahan
Marion Belanger
Michael Berman
Andrew Borowiec
Barbara Bosworth
Joann Brennan
Lois Conner
Gregory Conniff
Linda Connor
Thomas Joshua Cooper
Robert Dawson
Peter de Lory
Lucinda Devlin
Rick Dingus
Terry Evans
Lukas Felzmann
Steve Fitch
Frank Gohlke
Peter Goin
Emmet Gowin
Wayne Gudmundson
Owen Gump
David T. Hanson
Alex Harris
Allen Hess
Ben Huff
Ron Jude
Robert Glenn Ketchum
Mark Klett
Stuart Klipper
Peter Latner
David Maisel
Laura McPhee
Andrew Moore
Eric Paddock
Mary Peck
Edward Ranney
Jeff Rich
Meghann Riepenhoff
Mark Ruwedel
Mike Smith
Joel Sternfeld
Martin Stupich
William Sutton
Bob Thall
Terry Toedtemeier
Geoff Winningham
Dennis Witmer
William Wylie