The behemoth structures appear just north of Lafayette, stretching to the horizon on both sides of Interstate 65.
Huge white windmills, their massive blades spinning lazily, dot the landscape. The machines seem to cover miles and rise out of the surrounding farmland like alien crops themselves.
Most people driving that stretch of highway between Indianapolis and Chicago complain that the drive offers nothing of interest.
Don’t let photographer Ginny Taylor Rosner hear that.
“We take landscapes for granted. People who are driving on that route always tell me, ‘Oh, that’s a dreadful drive.’ And I always think, ‘What landscape are they looking at?’” she said. “I’m really amazed at that landscape I’m seeing. Where’s the dreadfulness in that?”
Rosner has attempted to explore the relationship between people and the windmills they pass in a collection of photographs she’s shot over a number of years. Her work is featured in the exhibit “Landscape: Structural, Ethereal,” now showing at the Stutz Art Gallery in Indianapolis.
She is joined by two other Indianapolis artists, Marna Shopoff and Wug Laku, looking at how man-made structures affect the surrounding land.
“Most people who make photographs are asking you to take notice of something. In the middle of the busyness of your life, stop and look,” she said. “Ultimately, I’m hoping people take that moment and look at all of this in a different way.”
Rosner has 18 works in the exhibition. She has been working on the project for more than 20 years and compiled more than 500 shots on the back-and-forth drive.
She has been fascinated with the motion of driving through that landscape, noting the changes in light, atmospheric conditions and mood that occur each time she passes through.
“I was interested in how the weather changes, the landscape changes through the growing seasons and time of day. I also wanted to look at the structures of the surrounding community either existing on the land or within the land,” Rosner said.
“Landscapes: Structural, Ethereal” is the first exhibition envisioned in a new format. The opening reception will be today, with each artist available to speak about the meaning and symbolism behind the work.
Gallery organizers wanted to move the Stutz Art Space in a new direction and felt this was the ideal exhibition to do that, gallery director Elise Schweitzer said.
“We wanted to give our artists additional opportunity. On First Fridays, artists are stuck in their own venue. This is more of a time for discussion, less of a party and more of an investigation of the work,” she said.
The opening reception will be 5 to 8 p.m. today at the Stutz Art Gallery, 212 W. 10th St., Indianapolis. Artists will conduct a discussion at 6:30 p.m. The exhibition will be open to the public 1 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday through Feb. 22.
What was the inspiration for this collection of photos?
I have been, for many years, photographing landscapes between Chicago and Indianapolis. I’m not interested in the landscape in the traditional sense. I’m mainly interested in my experience of my landscape as I’m driving by it in a vehicle. I’m mostly interested in the movement. I’m moving, because I’m in the car. The landscape appears to move, because of how you perceive it as you pass it.
How did you get focused on wind turbines as artwork?
I have 500 photographs of the wind turbines during all of these different changes of season and time of day. I realized as I was capturing more and more of these photographs, as they hung together in a gallery, it gave the sense of almost driving up I-65. As you look at these photographs, some might have one turbine in it or might have dozens. They all look different from one another, because the sky is different or the cloud structure is different. Sometimes they seem separate from the land, and other times they seem very connected to it.
The landscape is a big part of the photograph, because I want to commentate on what’s going on at that time. Sometimes you might see a little bit of growth, other times there’s a lot of color. There’s that relationship to that happening.
What emotions or feelings does that invoke as you see these wind turbines?
I’m in awe. I’m always interested in what man is able to build. They’re very sculptural, and they almost become alive. So I start feeling like I have a connection to them, and they’re telling me a story. I find myself engaged in the stories in my mind that I have in my mind. Sometimes, it seems very solemn, and sometimes it seems like it’s a very joyous occasion. Again, it depends what kind of day it is. That experience is always changing.
When people come to see these works, what do you hope they take away from it?
That the landscape can be more than just their initial impression. I’m hoping to let people see the landscape in a different way and to maybe not take it for granted. We have a very flat landscape here in Indiana. But just because it’s flat doesn’t mean it’s not interesting. If they’d open their eyes and look a little harder, they can see a lot of amazing things.