The Llano Estacado from the Eye of a Native Daughter
"Many enter the field of photography with the impulse to record a scene. They often fail to realize that what they wish to do is to record the emotion felt upon viewing that scene...a mere record photograph in no way reflects that emotion." Laura Gilpin.
The Crossroads by Ginger Sisco Cook. March 2017
Evolving Artist's Statement
Reagan County Big Lake Downtown by Ginger Sisco Cook, May 2016
I was born and raised on the Plains. My sense of identity is firmly planted there. I didn’t know there were boundaries along the road when traveling to visit grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. What child knows of state lines and county names? Distance was relative. We had to travel long distances to get anywhere.
Ken Taylor remarked in Landscape and Memory (2008), “One of our deepest needs is for a sense of identity and belonging. A common denominator in this is human attachment to landscape and how we find identity in landscape and place. Landscape therefore is not simply what we see, but a way of seeing: we see it with our eye but interpret it with our mind and ascribe values to landscape for intangible—spiritual—reasons. Landscape can therefore be seen as a cultural construct in which our sense of place and memories inhere.” Truly, my sense of place is in the West.
Some describe this land as treeless, featureless, windy and isolated. Their description is not my experience. When I put the camera up to my eyes, I see my memories first and the actual landscape in front of me second. I do not see the plains or its people with fresh eyes but with misty eyes filled with mostly fond memories.
Virginia Woolf’s description of landscape speaks for me: “The past lives on in art and memory, but it is not static: it shifts and changes as the present throws its shadow backwards. The landscape also changes, but far more slowly; it is a living link between what we were and what we have become. This is one of the reasons why we feel such a profound and apparently disproportionate anguish when a loved landscape is altered out of recognition; we lose not only a place, but ourselves, a continuity between the shifting phases of our life”—referenced by Margaret Drabble in A Writer’s Britain: Landscape in Literature (Thames & Hudson, 1987).
As a native daughter I have been spending time studying noted female landscape photographers who could stand toe to toe with Ansel Adams but are not well known outside of photographic history. My inspirations at the moment are Anne Brigman, Clara E. Sipprell, Laura Gilpin, Marion Post Wolcott, Geraldine Sharpe, Liliane De Cock Morgan, Marion Patterson, Barbara Crane, Betty Hahn, Evon Streetman, Meridel Rubenstein, Marion Faller, Linda Gammell, Lynn Geesaman, Kathryn Paul, Gail Skoff, Mary Peck, Vida, Joan Myers, Linda Connor, Mary Beth Edelson, Judy Dater, and Cynthia MacAdams, to name only some.
Gretchen Garner wrote in her introductory essay on the catalog, Reclaiming Paradise: American Women Photograph the Land: “It often seems that landscape photographs are windows on the world, clear views that any of us might have seen had we stood in the photographer’s shoes. As we read these photographs more deeply, though, asking more of them, we realize that, if we are looking through a window, then we are looking first through a powerful screen of interpretation. The work of art is the unity woven of imagination, idea and the world itself.”
In Exploring Landscapes of the Llano Estacado, I offer you my window onto the Plains.
Yoakum County CR 255 Clouds by Ginger Sisco Cook , Jan 2016
Yoakum County, Texas. Wasson Oil Field, CR 390 by Ginger Sisco Cook, 2015
"What I consider really fine landscapes are very few and far between," Laura Gilpin wrote to a friend in 1956. "I consider this field one of the greatest challenges and it is the principal reason I live in the west. I . . . am willing to drive many miles, expose a lot of film, wait untold hours, camp out to be somewhere at sunrise, make many return trips to get what I am after." Laura Gilpin to Edna Bennett, 12 December 1956. Source: Laura Gilpin: An Enduring Grace by Martha A. Sandwei –1986
Yoakum Co, Plains Cemetery, by Ginger Sisco Cook, 2016