ABOUT REBECCA

REBECCA NORRIS WEBB

Originally a poet, Rebecca Norris Webb has published five photography books, her third book, My Dakota, which interweaves her text and photographs, with a solo exhibition of the work at The Cleveland Museum of Art. Her work has been exhibited internationally. Her first collaboration with Alex, Violet Isle: A Duet of Photographs from Cuba, was shown at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She also published two other collaborative books with Alex, Memory City (Radius Books) and Alex Webb & Rebecca Norris Webb on Street Photography and the Poetic Image (Aperture). Her work has been published in The New Yorker, The Guardian, Le Monde, National Geographic and Time, and is the collections of the George Eastman Museum, Rochester, The Cleveland Museum of Art, and the MFA, Boston. Her sixth book, Slant Rhymes (La Fabrica) will be published in March 2017.

SELECTED EXHIBITIONS :
SOLO AND TWO-PERSON SHOWS
—My Dakota and Violet Isle (the latter with Alex Webb) at the Southeast Museum of Photography, Daytona, FL, Oct. 2013-Feb. 2014
—My Dakota and Violet Isle (with Alex Webb), North Dakota Museum of Art, Grand Forks, ND, summer 2013
—My Dakota, Ricco/Maresca Gallery, NYC, summer 2013
—My Dakota, Dahl Arts Center, Rapid City, SD, summer 2012
—My Dakota, Robert Klein Gallery, Boston, Sept. 2012
--Violet Isle (with Alex Webb), Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, May 2011-January 2012.
--Violet Isle (with Alex Webb), University of the Arts, Philadelphia, Feb.-March 2010.
--Violet Isle ((with Alex Webb), Ricco Maresca Gallery, NY, Nov. 2009-Jan. 2010.
--The Glass Between Us, Festival of the Photograph, Charlottesville, June 2007.
--The Glass Between Us, Ricco Maresca Gallery, New York, May 2006.
--The Glass Between Us, Photographic Center Northwest, Seattle, September 2006.
--The Glass Between Us, Griffin Museum, Winchester, Mass. 2005.
--The Glass Between Us, Zucchi Museum, Milan, 2005.

GROUP
--The Changing Earth , Ansel Adams Gallery, Napa, California, Sept. 2009-March 2010.
--Generations, Provincetown Art Association and Museum, Provincetown, Mass., Dec. 2009-Feb. 2010.--All About Photography, ArtStrand Gallery, Provincetown, Mass., Sept. 2009
--Why Look at Animals? George Eastman House, Rochester, NY, 2006-2007: Museum of Contemporary Art/Jacksonville, January 24, 2009-April 5, 2009.
--Song of Myself, Powerhouse Gallery, Brooklyn, NY, fall 2007.--Blue Earth Alliance, Anne Focke Gallery, Seattle, Washington, April-June 2008.
--Blue Earth Alliance: Photographs that Make a Difference, TCC Photo Gallery, Longview, Texas, Oct.-Dec. 2007.
--Selections, Fototeca de Veracruz (Mexico), January 2007.
--Viajeros: North American Artist/Photographers’ Images of Cuba, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pa., 2005; Miami-Dade College, Miami, 2007.
--Photography that Makes a Difference, traveling exhibition with venues in Seattle, Portland, Spokane, and Redmond, 2004-7.
--Transparency, Beacon Firehouse Gallery, Beacon, NY, 2005.
--Man and Beast, University of Akron, Akron, Ohio, 2005.
I often work in landscapes that call to me for some reason, including places I've lived or find myself returning to that resonate with memory and poetic associations.—RNW

About MY DAKOTA
Review from The New Yorker:The photographer and poet grew up in South Dakota and sees the state’s landscape through the lens of grief for a brother who died. But that fact is not immediately apparent in these big, strong color photographs of sprinting deer, drooping sunflowers, and wide-open spaces. They offer an insider’s view, full of personal history, much of which remains coded. “Does loss have its own geography?” Webb has written on one of the gallery walls, and her camera circles the question obsessively, whether landing on a barbed-wire fence trailing torn plastic bags or a buffalo, glimpsed in a side-view mirror. Through Aug. 17.—from The New Yorker, Aug. 12 &19, 2013 issue

Review of My Dakota in The Wall Street Journal:My Dakota, Rebecca Norris Webb's poetic travelogue of her home state of South Dakota, depicts an uneasy communion with a still-raw land. Plastic grocery bags, blown ragged in the wind, dot the view of a Badlands mesa. Overgrown grass scrambles the outline of a rusty chaise longue, thrusting through its sagging slats. A grazing bison, full of potential menace, looms in a rearview mirror. Accompanied by hand-lettered text memorializing her brother, who died young of a heart condition, Ms. Webb's photographs show a painterly command of tone and texture: Crab apples cast long shadows on a surface nubbled with layers of old paint; stormy clouds and rolling green hills glimpsed through a rain-blurred windshield become an Impressionist study in soft color. Throughout, the photographer uses the distortions and duplications created by glass to introduce evocative tints or spots of unnerving depth, as with a decaying house that appears like a ghost in a spare pane leaning against a wall, or a state map in a case that reflects the outline of a small boy coming through a door. Another haunting shot shows grass and trees seemingly fixed in the amber of a stained-glass window, as if to remind the viewer that the landscape will last longer than even the silos and clapboard houses that are the sod homes' modern successors.—The WSJ

EditorsTime’s Best of 2012:Grieving after her brother’s death, Norris Webb goes on a quest, returning to South Dakota, where she grew up. Her images show us the beauty of the landscape, but the view is never straightforward. We see a field glimpsed through yellowed leaves, a view of the wide horizon cut by the rectangle of a car window. She probes symbols of time passing: apples fallen in the dirt, weathered paint on the wall of a motel, a field of sunflowers dried and browned in the autumn. The images are personal but never obscure. Norris Webb’s spare, poetic text speaks to anyone who has experienced the puzzlement and struggle that comes with loss. —Holly Hughes

From Photo-Eye review of My Dakota:The book is not wrapped in nostalgia. Its strength lies in the layered photographs where Norris Webb is looking for something in the distance, but what it is is not clear. It could be a memory. There is something between her and what is out there. Reflections and windows play an important role in layering the images with mystery and a sense of disconnectedness. Each photograph is open to interpretation and that room allows the reader to find their own memory of loss to complete it. The language of Norris Webb's photographs is personal, but universal…The sense of loss is palatable, but it feels like a love poem for the land and for her brother. It is a not a South Dakota that can be found on any map. It exists only in the book and comes through clearly. —Tom Leininger

From Fraction:Looking for glimpses of the dead is not a new kind of quest in photography - we’ve been trying to make “spirit photographs” since the medium began. How Webb succeeds is through metaphor and symbol, which reveal themselves slowly as the pages turn. Her great loss is hidden in complex images that take several viewings to understand. They convey not just three but four dimensions.On this journey through re-membered territory, the photographs illustrate the psychological and spiritual realities of the place. The barren land that is the Dakotas appears first, starting with the dust jacket image, a view of the Badlands through the greenish tint of a partially opened car window. Some patches of grass stubbornly cling to the sandy foreground, leading us to the striped mountains miles beyond. The frontispiece is of a buffalo glimpsed through a sideview mirror, seen as if on the other side of time. The Wild West, indeed…Webb searches for clues to her brother’s whereabouts in the mountains, the fields, and the forests; in abandoned farmhouses and the family home; and on the road. In the details (where God is, perhaps?) lie the metaphors - lengths of plastic entangled on barbed wire, a lawn chair becoming undergrowth. The spine of an animal caught on a fence like some prehistoric sculpture. Two upturned chairs in a rushing river, handprints on windows and on the side of a bridge. These photographs are mysterious, mournful and magical.—Ellen WallensteinF

rom Fluence Q&A with NDMOA Curator Laurel Reuter:NDMOA Curator Laurel Reuter: My Dakota is as much an elegy to a time and place as it is a memorial to your brother. It is unlike any other photo book I have seen about the Dakotas. While objects in the forefront seem to ground each photograph, the overall composition often suggests movement stretching far into time and space. The visual parallels the passage of your brother into the beyond just as the prairie itself stretches endlessly toward the far horizon. Is this a conscious theme or am I imagining? Rebecca Norris Webb: I think you’ve beautifully captured the sense of tension in the frame, between the near and the far, the tangible and the ethereal, the ground one stands on and the distant horizon, all of which may also suggest the living and the dead. In the darkest time of grief, one feels suspended between two worlds, sometimes floating, sometimes feeling tugged in two directions at once. For months after my brother died, it felt as if his loss was carving its own territory, a kind of borderland between memory and the badlands and prairie.

Description of My Dakota from Radius Books:In 2005, Rebecca Norris Webb set out to photograph her home state of South Dakota, a sparsely populated frontier state on the Great Plains with more buffalo, pronghorn, mule deer and prairie dogs than people. It’s a land of powwows and rodeos, a corn palace and buffalo roundups. Dominated by space and silence, South Dakota’s harsh and beautiful landscape is sometimes prey to brutal wind and extreme weather. The next year, however, everything changed for Norris Webb, when one of her brothers died unexpectedly of heart failure. “For months,” she writes in the afterword to this volume, “one of the few things that eased my unsettled heart was the landscape of South Dakota…I began to wonder — does loss have its own geography?” My Dakota — which interweaves her spare text and lyrical photographs — is a small intimate book about the West and its weathers, and an elegy for a lost brother.—from Radius Books

About VIOLET ISLE:

Review of Violet Isle in the New Yorker:
ALEX WEBB AND REBECCA NORRIS WEBB This married couple shows color photographs from several trips to Cuba that emphasize the easy compatibility of their distinct visual styles. Alex usually takes a broad view of streetscapes complicated by shadows, reflections, and arrested movement; he has a filmmaker’s ability to find the skewed but perfect balance in a scene that threatens to spin out of control. Rebecca tends to focus on details, framing intriguing still-lifes and capturing marvellous shots of birds, including a pigeon that appears to be flying away from a freshly laid egg. Both Webbs use color like the Fauves—in hot, vibrant swatches and pungent accents. The results are the opposite of tourist views: pictures that are generated and animated by their subjects, never imposed on them.--New Yorker, January 4, 2010

Collaborative photography books are difficult to pull off –– maybe even more so by a husband-and-wife team, and especially when each is offering pictures (as opposed to one providing the text.) Pick a popular, well-photographed subject like Cuba for even more of a challenge. Violet Isle (Radius Books, 2009), by Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb, easily overcomes these difficulties. Made from 11 trips to Cuba over 15 years, the book alternates between his and her images almost page by page, mixing Rebecca's painterly vignettes with Alex's harder-edged narrative into a single, deep, organically cohesive vision of this iconic island." –– Orion Magazine, May-June 2010

Violet Isle is unlike anything I've seen before, transcending all the cliches of Cuba. Rebecca is a painter with her camera, Alex a cinematographer; together they've created a unique view into a complex and often misunderstood culture. ­­ Carol McCusker, Curator of Photography, Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego

It's as if [Rebecca] captures the melancholy interiors, and all the quirky secrets kept there, one reason, perhaps, the island still survives in spite of everything. ­­ Pico Iyer, from "The Sunlight in Shade, the Stillness in Motion"

About THE GLASS BETWEEN US:

Rebecca Norris Webb photographs reflections in the glass walls separating us from captive animals: A chimpanzee seems to hug a little girl to his breast; a reclining orangutan is joined to a brunette-haired family, the image as darkly atmospheric as a Caravaggio; a beluga whale swims in the sky over the heads of bundled-up onlookers. Surreal and tinged with sadness, these images capture a fundamental, if unequal, communion. — R.C. Baker, Village Voice

With intelligence and photographic confidence, Webb brings gravitas to the lives of these animals. In Webb’s work one can almost forget that these are pictures of animals because the dramas they enact feel so very human. — Jonathan Fardy, Big Red & Shiny

How do we express a confusing emotion without words? How do we visually render a feeling of contradiction? A poet responds to these questions with an extraordinary project that fully exploits the grammar of the photographic medium. — Enrica Vigano, Zucchi Museum curator, Milan