Oklahoma exhibition progress


Upon returning from my final road trip around Oklahoma in November, I’ve been consumed by the editing process for the upcoming exhibition of the OK series at Philbrook Museum of Art in downtown Tulsa (opens May 31). The series marks both my first museum exhibition and my first photographic outings in Oklahoma. In 2017 I photographed fairly extensively in Texas for what would become the book A PLAIN VIEW, and I’d photographed in Texas over the years prior to relocating here a few years back and making APV, but I’d never explored Oklahoma.

In fact, OK was never on my radar as a place to make photographs. Being from California and spending most of my time photographing there and the Southwest, I’d never given much thought to exploring too far outside that region. I’d considered perhaps making photographs in the Northeast, and definitely in the South, as I was drawn early on to William Christenberry’s photographs of rural Alabama, but hadn’t given much thought to places like Oklahoma, or Kansas—these places in the center.

But having explored Oklahoma, side to side, top to bottom, I’m quite pleased that it’s become the newest chapter in this ongoing American photography journey of mine.

For A PLAIN VIEW, I used only one format and medium: 4x5 color film. For the OK series, I used 4x5, medium format, and 35mm color and black-and-white films. This allowed me to photograph scenes and locations from different perspectives and with different results. And will allow viewers to ‘revisit’ locations in different sections in the gallery and the book.

Additionally, with Tulsa having been blessed with unusually early snowfall in November, the night before the photograph above was made, I was able to revisit a handful of locations that I’d photographed in June and make secondary photographs—this has allowed me to create selected seasonal groupings of photographs for the exhibition. But more than driven by a curiosity of what these seasonal changes had brought to the locations, I was interested in what details, if any, had changed about the things themselves between June and November. In some cases there were noticeable differences; other scenes were near identical.

I am currently about 90% finished with the exhibition layout, and then printing / framing will commence. It’s proving to be quite the undertaking, but one that I remain enthusiastic about.

As printing begins, I will simultaneously begin laying out the book, which will most likely be released at the end of the year following the close of the exhibition in the fall. The book will contain both the exhibited photographs and those that didn’t make the cut.

The above photograph was made with 18-year-old Kodak Ektachrome E100S 4x5 Readyload slide film and my old Graflex Speed Graphic camera and lens that I used for the photographs seen in A PLAIN VIEW.

More to come…


Jason Lee1 Comment