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 Past Exhibition

Laura McPhee: River of No Return

May 17–September 22, 2013

Kemper Museum

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In her large-scale photographs—each measuring six by eight feet—Laura McPhee says "you feel the past and the present in one place." The exhibition's theme is a look at the landscape and culture of the American West with a special focus on the Sawtooth Valley in central Idaho, a desolate part of the United States. Along with capturing the area's beauty and its permanent and migrant residents, McPhee's images raise issues about the impact of humans on the land and the tensions among ranchers, hunters, environmentalists, and recreationists. Her lush images—made with a large-format camera and printed using traditional photographic methods—envelope and engage viewers in their sheer scale and warmth.

McPhee, a graduate of Princeton and Rhode Island School of Design, is a professor at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Her works can be found in museums and collections throughout the United States, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; J. Paul Getty Center Museum, Los Angeles; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; among others.

Support for this exhibition was provided by Alturas Foundation, a family foundation dedicated to the visual arts and American culture. Laura McPhee created River of No Return in the Sawtooth Valley of Idaho during 2003–2006 as the initial Alturas Foundation artist-in-residence.

Matt Visiting Shepherd’s Camp near Lost Creek, Custer County, Idaho, 2003; chromogenic print, 94 x 72 inches; Collection of Alturas Foundation and courtesy of Carroll and Sons, Boston, ©Laura McPhee