The Way Out West

The Way Out West

by Michelle Van Parys
     
 

Legend and myth hover over the breathtaking landscape of the American West, and the region has inspired adventure-seekers and artists alike for centuries. Yet the modern sprawl of suburbia and office parks conflicts with our nostalgic imaginings of “cowboys and Indians.” With The Way Out West, Michelle Van Parys deftly combines words and images

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Overview

Legend and myth hover over the breathtaking landscape of the American West, and the region has inspired adventure-seekers and artists alike for centuries. Yet the modern sprawl of suburbia and office parks conflicts with our nostalgic imaginings of “cowboys and Indians.” With The Way Out West, Michelle Van Parys deftly combines words and images to reflect on the contradictory and tumultuous landscape of the New West.

Traveling from California, Nevada, and Utah through to Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado, Van Parys trains her camera’s penetrating gaze on the hard-edged natural beauty of the West—and its constantly changing contemporary identity. Whether documenting the glitter of the ever-expanding metropolises of Phoenix and Las Vegas or the quiet reserve of Monument Valley, Van Parys’s images, she explains, seek to “juxtapose nineteenth-century notions of the sublime landscape with the way in which we live on the land today, thereby drawing attention to our uneasy alliance with the natural world.” Essays by Lucy Lippard and Geoffrey Batchen build upon Van Parys’s images, arguing that she puts forth a wholly original visual narrative that depicts the American West from a thought-provoking new perspective. Van Parys’s photographic journey ultimately reveals that the West is still a place of renewal and reinvention, a theater of clashes and compromises between human enterprise and nature’s limits, set against the unyielding backdrop of desert and bush. 
 

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Editorial Reviews

Geoggrey Batchen

“Driving along the highways and byways of the Southwest and Interior West, Van Parys has noticed things that you or I might otherwise consider too trivial, too banal, to be worthy of further examination. Fortunately for us, Van Parys has taken the time to stop and line up her camera and take a photograph. By doing so, she makes us see things that would otherwise remain unseen. The final result is a poignant commentary not only on the desert landscapes to be found ‘out west,’ but also on the act of seeing the American West.”—Geoffrey Batchen, author of Forget Me Not: Photography and Remembrance

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781930066557
Publisher:
Columbia College Chicago Press
Publication date:
03/15/2009
Series:
Center for American Places - Center Books on American Places Series
Pages:
104
Product dimensions:
10.30(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.60(d)

Meet the Author

Michelle Van Parys is associate professor of art at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. Her photographs have appeared in Camera Arts, Le Millennium, and the New York Times Book Review, and they are in the collections of the San Francisco Museum of Art, High Museum of Art, and Nevada Museum of Art, among others.
 

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