Members' Online Gallery's Portfolio Competition December 2010
Selections made by Kenda North, Head of Photography at the University of Texas at Arlington.

Emerging Artist

Robert Cassaway

Robert Cassaway of Wyncote, PA
Series Untitled
To view a gallery of the Exhibit.
For many years Robert Cassway has traveled to the western part of the United States and Canada photographing the quickly disappearing structures of the 19th and early 20th centuries. These structures include gold, silver and copper mining communities, ghost towns, wooden grain elevators, abandoned homesteads, churches and schools. These buildings represent what is left of the efforts of the western pioneers to build a better life and to seek their fortune. These structures are quickly disappearing due to neglect and weather. Each year scores of wooden grain elevators are torn down, or simply fall down. These magnificent structures, once called the cathedrals of the prairie, are now considered liabilities, in many communities. But, even in neglect these structures are glorious against the flat landscape and high sky.
Cassway’s photographs are taken in a documentary style, each picture is meant to tell part of the story of the pioneer’s westward movement. Many of the photographs are presented in a panoramic format, in order to emphasize the vastness of the northwest prairies.
. Mr. Cassway has traveled to Montana, North Dakota, California, Nevada, Alberta, and Saskatchewan, some states several times, in order to record these images.
The photographs were taken using a Pentax 67 ll medium format camera. The majority of the photos were taken with a 75 mm architectural shift lens. The remainder was taken using a 45 mm wide angle lens.
The negatives were processed in the normal manner and then scanned to a high resolution disc. The images were then downloaded into Photoshop, where they were cropped and given minimal adjustments.
Cassway’s work has appeared in many regional juried group shows, and he has had several one person shows. His photographs have won numerous awards.
Mr. Cassway has been widely published, and his photographs are in many private collections.
Mid-Career Artist

Kathleen Robbins from Columbia, SC
Into the Flatland
To view a gallery of the Exhibit.

In the fall of 2001, after completing my MFA at the University of New Mexico, I relocated to the Mississippi Delta to live on my family’s farm, Belle Chase. Following the events of September 11, my brother, Steele, and I felt compelled to return home. He moved his family into my grandmother’s former house, and I moved into a large Victorian house built by my great-great grandparents. Both houses, which sit fifty yards apart and face one another on a vast lawn, were unoccupied for decades. They had begun to settle into the earth, and we felt we were doing something important by re-inhabiting them.

I ate from my great-grandmother’s china, drank form her crystal and slept in her bed. At dusk I rocked on the porch and watched the blackbirds descend on the canebrake planted by my great-grandfather. Living on the farm I existed in a strange continuum. My family’s history and their connection to this place were markedly present in my everyday experience.

I lived on Belle Chase for two years before leaving Mississippi (again) to take a teaching position at the University of South Carolina. Into the Flatland explores familial obligation and our conflicted relationship with “home.” The photographs in this series were made during regular trips home to visit family over a period of five years. These are the people I love most in a place that I am deeply connected to. I chose to leave the Mississippi Delta for many of the same reasons anyone ever chooses to leave a rural area. This is land that my family has inhabited for generations, and I am pulled to this place in a way that I am not able to fully articulate. It is not my nostalgia alone that creates this longing; it is that of my mother and my mother’s mother.