Terry Evans is known for her photographs of the people, landscapes, and artifacts of the American Midwest. She grew up in the heart of the American prairie, inspiring her lifelong passion for the Great Plains, which she has photographed since the mid-1970s. Evans’ work provides us with an insight into the complexities and contradictions of this environment, particularly in her native Kansas.
For Inhabited Prairie, a series of black and white aerial photographs taken between 1990 and 1994, Evans documented the changes that have been wrought on the Kansas landscape through farming, industrialization, and military use. Prior to this, Evans had only photographed the untouched native prairie. Working close-up and on the ground, earlier series such as Prairie Specimens and Prairie Scrolls reveal the rich diversity of wildlife that exists within the prairie, contrary to its mainstream characterization as a vast expanse of dry grassland and bales of hay.
Most recently, in Petcoke vs. Grassroots in Chicago, Evans investigated petcoke production in Chicago and beyond, pairing aerial photographs of the BP oil refinery in Whiting, Indiana, and petcoke storage sites in the Calumet region, with portraits and testimonials from activists and community members on the Southeast Side of Chicago.
Born in 1944 in Kansas City, Terry Evans was made an Honorary Doctor of Arts at the University of Kansas, where she received her BFA, in 2016. She is a Guggenheim Fellow (1996) and a recipient of an Anonymous Was a Woman award (2006). Several books have been published on her work including Prairie: Images of Ground and Sky (1986); The Inhabited Prairie (1998); Disarming the Prairie (1998); Heartland: The Photography of Terry Evans (2012); and Prairie Stories (2013).
Evans has exhibited widely, including at the Art Institute of Chicago; the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C.; Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City; and The Field Museum of Natural History, Notre Dame, Indiana. Her work is in major museum collections including the Art Institute of Chicago; Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, among many others.