It may have been the Western skies of South Dakota that turned Rebecca Norris Webb (b. 1956) into a photographer–something there that trains the eye. A New Yorker now, she returned to the Black Hills to photograph her home state (pop. 833,354) which she describes as “a sparsely populated frontier state on the Great Plains with more buffalo, pronghorn, coyotes, mule deer, ring-necked pheasants and prairie dogs than people.” While she was shooting her childhood environs, her brother died unexpectedly. “One of the few things that eased my unsettled heart was the landscape of South Dakota.” Her book of photographs and poetry, My Dakota, is an elegy for her brother. An exhibition of the photographs will be on display at the North Dakota Museum of Art (June 5-July 31, 2013).
Nature wasn’t Norris Webb’s only influence. Virginia Woolf’s The Waves (partially based on Woolf’s brother who died suddenly at 26) and Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping (a Western family facing a series of losses) also inspired her.