Steve Fitch Statement

Artist Statement
After graduating from the University of California at Berkeley in 1971 with a bachelors degree in anthropology, and while teaching photography at the ASUC Studio on the Berkeley campus, I began work on a project photographing the vernacular roadside of the American highway. I received two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships to aid in the completion of this project, one in 1973 and the second in 1975. Eventually, the photographs were published in the monograph, Diesels and Dinosaurs, in 1976.

After receiving a masters degree in fine arts from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque in 1978 I accepted a teaching position at the University of Colorado in Boulder. In 1981, as a member of the "Marks and Measures" project, I began photographing prehistoric Native American pictograph and petroglyph sites in the American west. This project was partly funded by the last National Endowment for the Arts Survey Grant awarded in 1981. My work on the project, along with that of the other four project members, was published in a monograph, Marks in Place: Contemporary Responses to Rock Art, by the University of New Mexico Press in 1988. I received several purchase awards in various exhibitions for photographs made during this period.

Partly as a result of the work I did for Diesels and Dinosaurs, I became interested in the artistic possibilities of neon and learned to fabricate my own neon pieces in 1981. I have made a number of neon installations over the past thirty years, several of which are permanently located in outdoor locations in New Mexico.

In 1990, after teaching at Princeton University for four years in the Visual Arts Program, I returned to New Mexico and began photographing the ongoing abandonment of the high Great Plains receiving the Eliot Porter Fellowship from the New Mexico Council for Photography in 1999 to aid in the completion of this project. In 2003 a book of these photographs entitled Gone: Photographs of Abandonment on the High Plains was published by the University of New Mexico Press and a traveling exhibition of the photographs was organized by University of New Mexico Art Museum. The entire exhibition of forty photographs was purchased by the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. Since 1990 I have taught photography at the College of Santa Fe.

Today, my wife and I live off the grid in a passive solar adobe house we constructed ourselves over six summers, beginning in 1984, on rural land in Santa Fe County, New Mexico. We use photovoltaic panels to meet all of our electricity needs and collect water in an extensive rainwater gathering system. Recently, I finished a project photographing in the Llano Estacado region of western Texas and eastern New Mexico. My work on the project, as well as that of five other photographers, was partly funded by a grant from the Southwest Collection at Texas Tech University and will be published in an upcoming monograph by Texas Tech University Press.

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