As a geologist turned fine-art photographer and pilot, Evan Anderman has a unique relationship to the eastern Colorado landscape he documents in “In Plain Sight,” an exhibition opening September 17 at the Denver Central Public Library and running until the end of the year. While the aerial images he makes from his Cessna 206 relish the abstract shapes and colors of new grass on pastureland or salt left by evaporating water, Anderman says he also pays attention to the geological history of the places he photographs. “As a geologist, I can’t help but see the land differently because once you know how something is made you see everything that went into making it,” he said in an interview.
On top of the geological layer is the human activity that makes up the heart of Anderman’s series. His images show the many ways the land is used, for building housing developments, collecting electricity from wind turbines, extracting oil from fracking wells, raising and processing cattle, moving cargo by train and by truck, mining gravel and growing crops. As he writes in a statement, “As a geologist, when I fly over the high plains of eastern Colorado, I look at the many, overlapping layers and how the land has been modified by a combination of processes, both natural and manmade. The lowest layer, the land itself, has been created over literally millions of years and forms the foundation. Draped on top of that is what mankind has imposed in various ways; activities and structure that are collectively called ‘progress.'”
Anderman says he hopes his perspective in the air offers a more accurate picture of the systems that support modern life. “I think we’ve become disconnected from the reality that it takes a massive amount of infrastructure to support our desire to live in big houses and drive big cars,” he says in a statement about the show. “When you’re on the ground, it’s difficult to appreciate the scale of these operations or get access to them. But from the air, it’s all right there in plain sight.”