more images from my prairie & sea series…

There is one spectacle grander than the sea, that is the sky; there is one spectacle grander than the sky, that is the interior of the soul.

—Victor Hugo, French author of Les Misérables

taking pictures of pictures…

While sorting old photos I was struck by the frequent composition I’ve shot for decades. The dominant landscapes of my life share something quite powerful with my sense of self. The proof is in the piles of photographs I need to sort through.

Without lots of breathing room, easily feel claustrophobic.

Walking Town Neck Beach on Cape Cod I get a familiar sense of spaciousness..and then often an accompanying longing for the South Dakota prairie where I grew up. The way these sensations are intertwined, my native Nebraska artist friend, Elizabeth Bunsen, and I have named our “interior geography”.

Interior might not quite describe how truly primal these feelings are for me.

I was going to edit all of these photos of photos which would’ve taken hours. However, since this is the first step in a series I’m working on I thought showing the images raw was more interesting.

What is your interior geography?

the prairie and the sea…

Valentine’s Day seemed like the perfect day to post about two of my great loves—the prairie and the sea. I started this project with these first two photographs. I got quite obsessive while working on these images. I photographed smoke bombs I bought at the dollar store for the cloud layer I wanted. I like the surreal quality of the images…dreamlike perhaps.

“I like a good story and I also like staring at the sea– do I have to choose between the two?”
― David Byrne, How Music Works

Happy Valentine’s Day!

horizontal mystery ship—for Dad

HORIZONTAL MYSTERY SHIP

when you leave at seventeen
rarely home
more than two weeks at a time 
months, years and decades
can be surprisingly unreliable markers of adulthood

only once
in the summer of ‘88
a recent college grad
wide-eyed and wanderlust-fueled
my tonsils required more
I stayed a whole month

once healed, packed, and in possession of necessary visas
off to the southern hemisphere
a young pioneer 
in search adventure
and different stars

now, when visiting 
after a lifetime lived elsewhere
grey hairs visible
no matter my efforts
I find myself
sliding into a peculiar second adolescence of sorts

driving Dad’s truck 
windows down, hair blowing 
mile after mile of expansive, wild beauty 
the prairie 
a determined cellular homesteader 
forever staking a claim in my blood and bones

I want to sneak out to the bar
play Space Invaders
sadly, no longer a standard
unlike 1982
drink beer, eat junk food
and avoid the endless expectations of being a grown-up

Looking back with midlife sensibilities 
I realize
those late nights in high school
tenth grade, I believe
laser focused, playing Space Invaders
provided a surprisingly valuable education 

initials entered, quarters stacked
protect the bunkers, defeat the aliens
monitor the horizontal mystery ship with vigilance 
my peripheral vision unknowingly trained 
to notice things beyond immediate scope
bonus points pinged
while friends waited impatiently

twenty more minutes, please

under a waning August moon
only one lunar phase ago
I was still my father’s daughter
a middle-aged, South Dakota teenager
pretending time actually plays tricks
wanting desperately to disregard reality 

one more visit on the calendar
one more phone call
cheeseburger or ice cream cone 
one more evening watching
Everybody Loves Raymond
M.A.S.H. 
or Mayberry RFD

twenty more minutes, please

quarters stacked no longer
Space Invaders
the nearly forgotten teenage relic 
of a heartbroken
fifty-something
fatherless daughter

once again, 
I am protecting my bunkers
monitoring a new horizontal mystery ship
paying very close attention
to what's just beyond my immediate scope

just twenty more minutes, please

South Dakota. inspired.

This is one of the items in the silent auction at the Billie Sutton Grit for Governor event this Saturday, November 18th, in Burke, South Dakota.  The imagery of road, earth and sky are meant to give a sense of spaciousness like the prairie.  This bag has been sanded, ironed, hammered, painted and sanded again.  I like my work to look a little tattered, worn out and yet, still hanging in there.

I wanted this project to reflect my love of South Dakota and acknowledge the road ahead for the SUTTONforSD team.  This gubernatorial race requires a lot of heart, courage and grit.  I suspect there will be times when everyone is going to be a little tattered…and yet, somehow, still hanging in there.

The road to me is about leaving, coming home, exploring points unknown & so much more.  I never get tired of working with road imagery.  My creative inspiration for this bag came from Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo (who made a lot of her own wardrobe and accessories) and Calamity Jane (who wore a lot of men’s clothing).  These women had a lot of duality and refused to conform to social norms…talk about grit.

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Billie Sutton is married to my niece, Kelsea Kenzy Sutton and grew up in my hometown.  He’s currently South Dakota’s State Senate Minority Leader (and the father of my brilliant & hilarious great-nephew, Liam).  This gubernatorial race is one to take notice of, regardless of where you live.  Please take some time to visit their campaign site.  The link is below.

Now, won’t election day 2018 be even more fun now that you’re paying attention to South Dakota Governor’s race? 

Go ahead, share the link, make a donation & really have some skin in the game.

https://www.suttonforsd.com/

 

Burke, South Dakota—afternoon light

 

 

 

South Dakota—my interior geography

Last week I was in South Dakota for a funeral and a wedding.  In between those emotional events I found some time to drive back roads with my husband, see the stunning late August countryside and find some much needed quiet.  I’m always reminded of how much the prairie landscape resides in my cells, bones and heart.

This landscape gives me clarity, helps me understand my choices and guides me back to my personal True North when I get off course a bit.

South Dakota is my interior geography, no matter where I am in the world. 

Recently, I had to draw a compass at Courage Camp in Bristol, Rhode Island.  I laughed at myself because the way I still figure out directions is to imagine I’m standing on the front porch of my childhood home.  It’s there that I’m most confident in knowing my directions.  (photo below)

IMG_2852Standing on the porch I know which direction the sun sets and how to get to Nebraska. With that knowledge, I can find my way most places.

I often think of my intrepid ancestral homesteaders who ventured West, uncertain of what they would find in the Dakota Territories.  However, and more importantly, perhaps they knew they could handle whatever the prairie offered them. 

I understand that now, at the tender age of 50, in a way I didn’t when I was younger.  I don’t know what’s next, but I know I can count on my interior geography to help guide my way.

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I’ve added jewelry…

to my VIDA collection.  I hope you like these as much I loved creating them.

Here’s the link to my page.

LISA LILLIBRIDGE VIDA COLLECTION

PRAIRIE MEMORIES and HEADING WEST

SHE KNOWS WHAT TO DO and LOVE OF THE ROAD

“WE BELIEVE IT’S TIME TO REBUILD COMMERCE – FOR THE MINDFUL, GLOBAL CITIZENS OF THE MODERN WORLD.”  —VIDA

The Inspiration of Dorthea Lange

Last week I had the pleasure of watching the American Masters documentary on PBS about one of my heroes, Great Depression photographer Dorthea Lange.  Her work has greatly influenced my abandoned farmhouse hunting and photography whenever I visit my family in South Dakota.  Dorthea’s compassion and unyielding desire to tell the tragic and heroic stories of our nation’s poor, interned and displaced through photography woke our nation up.  Dorthea’s images prompted more action than print alone could possibly ever have conveyed.

I’ve always found great beauty among the ruins in all forms.  Things that are new just don’t give me much creative juice.  I like to see everything worn out, faded, distressed and destroyed.  To me there’s always a lot more stories among the ruins.

“It is not enough to photograph the obviously picturesque.”

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“Pick a theme and work it to exhaustion… the subject must be something you truly love or truly hate.”

—Dorthea Lange

You can watch the American Masters documentary online or look on demand from your local listings.

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/dorothea-lange-full-episode/3260/

These images I shot with my niece south of Burke, South Dakota in January.  I’m guessing someone will recognize the house, my sincere apologies for trespassing.  The pull to see what was inside was just too much for us to resist.

There are links to Dorthea’s biography and images if you scroll down.

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Dorthea Lange’s biography

Dorthea Lange’s photographs

Herrick, South Dakota

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The week before Thanksgiving I was in South Dakota visiting my family.  I had an afternoon to drive around and shoot some photos.  I headed to Herrick, just east of Burke, listening to korn country 92.1. I love Keith Urban’s song; Blue Ain’t Your Color.  If you don’t know this song, it’s a damn shame.  Here’s the video.

I spent a lot of time in Herrick growing up.  I “worked bees” two summers. That was highly educational, messy and sometimes painful work.  I got stung 17 times one day (my forearms looked like Popeye’s). I played softball in the field behind the truck.  I think I might’ve even knocked back a few beers at parties in the outfield on occasion. I had a friend who lived on a farm in Herrick and since I was a “city kid” riding the bus to Anita’s farm was a grand adventure.  We could drive at fourteen.  We didn’t have to ride the bus too long.  So, I had a blast driving around Herrick in beautiful, autumn, late afternoon light and thinking about my Herrick Days.

Next time, perhaps a whole series of photos devoted to Bernie’s Inn, the historic watering hole in Herrick.  Would that be a possibility?  Let me know.