Views from Wonderland, Volume 1: the Visitors by Janet Pritchard
My romance with the West began as a child of the mid-Atlantic nurtured by horseback riding, movies and my Father’s dreams. However, when I began to spend summers in Wyoming as an adolescent my world changed forever. Views from Wonderland began with a vintage picture postcard by F. Jay Haynes. When I turned it over and read these words, I was hooked back into a dream I thought was past: “I cannot describe the Yellowstone, as the dictionary is only a book. It is more than scenery, and in some places it is so beautiful that the men take off their hats and the women are silent!”
Views unfolded slowly in my mind as I returned to wander among the postcard views I was collecting. Soon I was cruising the Internet for clues to questions they raised. As a landscape photographer, I use information from many sources to immerse myself in a geographic region, a method I describe as the pursuit of artistic vision through historical empathy. For this project, a fellowship at the American Antiquarian Society allowed me to look closely at F. V. Hayden’s government reports.
Now when I walk in the park I experience the land physically as topographic features stretch out beneath my feet; geology is everywhere evident to my eyes and wild animals rule. I experience it emotionally through the lens of personal memory as qualities of light, colors of earth and smells in the air trigger memories of my years in Wyoming as a young woman yearning for something she could not analyze. All the while, the lens of cultural memory preserved in history, links my experiences with those of a larger society, and images by others are present in my mind’s eye. These photographs of park visitors are but the first chapter of a larger story I have to tell about Yellowstone that began with the anonymous words of a park visitor mailed on July 26, 1914, from Helena, Montana, to Southbridge, Massachusetts: “I can not describe the Yellowstone…”
Janet Pritchard is a Mansfield Center, CT based artist and teacher at the University of Connecticut.
To view more of Janet's work, please visit her website.
Where the Boiling & Gardner Rivers Meet, 2008
Fall Rut, Elk in Mammoth Hot Springs, 2008
Rock Climbing in the Hoo Doos of Silver Gate, 2008
Monarch Geyser Crater, Norris Geyser Basin, 2008
Terrace Geyser Overlooking National Park Mountain, Grand Loop Rd, 2008
Cow Elk, Madison River Valley, 2008
Firehole River with Swimmer, 2008
Excelsior Geyser, Midway Geyser Basin, 2009
Grand Prismatic Spring, Midway Geyser Basin, 2009
Old Faithful Geyser, 2008
Brink of the Lower Yellowstone Falls, 2009
Whiteout on Beartooth Pass in June, 2010
Ash in Fall Color, 2008
Petrified Tree, Near Tower-Roosevelt, 2008
Along the Northern Grand Loop Road, 2008
Hellroaring Overlook, Returning to Mammoth, 2009
Buffalo on Road in Lamar Valley, 2008
Lamar Valley with Vintage Yellow Bus, 2009