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Paula Chamlee, b. 1944
Creitz Farm, Adrian, Texas, 1995
Silver chloride print on paper
7 1/2 in. x 9 1/2 in. (19.05 cm x 24.13 cm)

Object Type: Photography
Technique: Photography
Credit Line: Gift of Carol Vernon and Robert Turbin
Accession Number: 2009.2.1

In the mid-1990s, Paula Chamlee made a series of trips to the Texas Panhandle to photograph her family’s farm there. At the time, Chamlee’s parents, then in their eighties, were still operating the farm. Chamlee grew up on the farm, but her portrayal of her childhood home—documented in a book, High Plains Farm, published in 1996—is not nostalgic. Rather, her photographs are meticulous studies in light and form. Creitz Farm, Adrian, Texas (1995) is among the photographs Chamlee made for the book. In black and white, the nearly vacant landscape depicted becomes a formal composition of patterns and shapes; light clouds contrast the solid, dark rocks and dirt that speckle the ground. Only the manmade cow scratcher and fence, and an indistinct dark shape to the right on the horizon, suggest the cultivation of this barren land. As it stands, broken, without a shadow, no cows in sight, the scratcher is the uncanny focal point of the remote scene. Chamlee’s frank view of the landscape renders it surreal. In High Plains Farm, Chamlee, who has photographed landscapes in Iceland and Italy, Chicago’s lakefront, and bodegas in San Francisco, represents a quintessential American idyll. Some images portray a stark, iconic West—a barn, a vintage International truck, cattle grazing. In others, Chamlee exposes the subtleties of farmers’ domestic life, such as in intimate portraits of her parents. Indoor and outdoor scenes are alike in their formal precision; Chamlee makes interior shots of her parents’ home with the same lucidity that she frames natural vistas. Creitz Farm, Adrian exemplifies her nuanced illustration of an American archetype. Zoe Larkin ’09 Wilson Intern 2008

Signed and dated in pencil on the mat backing.
Titled and given edition number 92/185 #2 in pencil by artist on back.

Purchased by Carol Vernon and Robert Turbin directly from the artist in the later part of 1995.

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