The demanding frontier life of "My Antonia" or "Little House on the Prairie" may be long gone, but the idyllic small town still exists as a cherished icon of American community life. Yet sprawl and urban density, rather than small towns and farms, are the predominant features of our modern society, agribusiness and other commercial forces have rapidly taken over family farms and ranches, and even the open spaces we think of as natural retreats only retain the barest facade of their former frontier austerity. The fading communities, social upheaval, and enduring heritage of the northern plains are the subject of Jim Dow's "Marking the Land", a stirring photographic tribute to the complex and unyielding landscape of North Dakota. Jim Dow began making pilgrimages to this remote territory in 1981 and, with a commission from the North Dakota Museum of Art, he took photographs of the passing human presence on the land.
The simple, stolid pieces of architecture carved out against the Dakota skies - whether the local schoolhouse, car wash, prison, hunting lodge, a home, or a church - evoke in their spare lines and weather-battered frames the stoic and toughened spirit of the people within their walls. Folk art is also an integral part of the landscape in Dow's visual study, and he examines the subtle evolution of local craftsmanship from homemade sculptures, murals, and carvings to carefully crafted pieces aimed at tourists. Anchoring all of these explorations is the raw and striking landscape of the North Dakota plains. "Marking the Land" is a moving reflection by a leading American photographer on the state of the northern plains today, forcing us all to rethink our conceptions of America's forgotten frontier.
Buy Marketing the Land book by Jim Dow from Australia's Online Independent Bookstore, Boomerang Books.
(259mm x 299mm x 17mm)
Center for American Places,US
Publisher: Center for American Places,US
Country of Publication:
Author Biography - Jim Dow
Jim Dow teaches photography, the history of photography, and contemporary art at Tufts University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. His photographs are in the permanent collections of the North Dakota Museum of Art, Art Institute of Chicago, George Eastman House, J. Paul Getty Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art, among others.