A Belle Fourche man is one of 11 photographers from around the country whose work has been honored in an exhibition about federal wilderness areas.
Robert Clements has four photos in the exhibition, which is titled “Wilderness at 50: Photographic Reflections on the Legacy of Tionesta Visionary Howard Zahniser.” The exhibition opened Aug. 30 at the Crary Art Gallery in Warren, Penn., and continues through Sept. 27.
Clements formerly operated a gallery in Maine and is acquainted with a curator of the wilderness exhibit. When the curator was looking for photos focusing on grasslands, he thought of Clements, who is a South Dakota native and has offered his and other artists’ work for display and sale at the Robert Clements Gallery in Belle Fourche for the past four years.
“It’s a little bit humbling,” Clements said. “Actually, it’s a lot humbling, because everybody in the show is a well-known photographer. It’s kind of nice to be shown with the big boys.”
The exhibition uses wilderness images to honor the late Zahniser, a Pennsylvania native who was instrumental in the passage 50 years ago this month of the national Wilderness Act. Today, because of the 1964 legislation, there are more than 700 federally designated wilderness areas comprising roughly 110 million acres. South Dakota has two such areas: the Black Elk Wilderness within the Black Hills National Forest, and the Badlands Wilderness Area within Badlands National Park.
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A two-page spread about Clements in the exhibition catalog includes a statement from him about his work. In the statement, he cites a quote that has been attributed to various people: “Anyone can love the mountains; it takes soul to love the prairie.”
Clements identifies with that sentiment.
“Out here, the sun, the sky and the earth combine to create lights and shadows unavailable elsewhere on the planet,” his statement says in part. “To learn to capture that subtle beauty is a privilege.”
For more information about the exhibit, go to crarygallery.org