Casey Hanson’s photography instructor told her she couldn’t do half color and half black-and-white images for her final portfolio. Hanson assured him he’d understand when she presented it.
She’d have to use both monochrome and color prints to tell the story she discovered while photographing Wyoming landscapes in the summer of 2016, mainly at the far side of Pathfinder Reservoir. The 10 photographs tell the story of how she rediscovered herself as she explored the landscape.
The instructor gave her an A on the portfolio in the class during her last semester before she graduated with her photography degree from Casper College.
Now the images are on display in in the Mildred Zahradnicek Gallery in the Casper College Music Building for the college’s RedStone Recital and Gallery Series.
Hanson will give an artist’s talk Nov. 10 about her show, “The Path to Find Her.” The recital afterward will feature music for flute, viola and piano followed reception. The photography show will remain on display through Dec. 13.
The title of her show came to Hanson when she thought back on the weekends she spent from late May through September 2016 at Pathfinder Reservoir, Hanson said. It was a time of growth and rediscovery for her as an artist and as a person, she said, as she was beginning a new relationship at the time.
“I actually learned to start appreciating sunsets a little bit more and stop worrying about things that are done,” Hanson said.
The show begins with “Weathered,” a black-and-white image of a rugged, worn fence post against a distant storm. That’s how Hanson felt when she started spending weekends at Pathfinder.
“I saw everything in black and white,” she said.
The title for each photograph came to her as she took the image, “so I really felt it in the moment,” Hanson said.
“Kerry in the Prairie” shows the friend who showed her the area of Pathfinder they’d spend months exploring. They’d catch fish, watch the water or walk for miles while she took photographs. The next day, she’d find their footprints gone.
“I thought, ‘We human beings harbor such hard things and we hold them for so long,’” she said.
But the landscape doesn’t, though through bitter cold, heat or whipping winds, she said.
“It just lets it go, so it helped me a lot,” Hanson said. “It helped me with my healing.”
“New Moon” is one of the most important images for Hanson “because the tree is so bare, and there’s nothing covering it up, and then there’s this tiny little moon in the sky,” she said.
The next five images of the show are in color, starting with “The Calm” of the still expanse of water.
“First time I felt that in a long time, and I was seeing in color,” Hanson said.
The last photograph in the show shows a leaf sticking out of the beach sand and appearing to wave at her in the breeze, Hanson said. It was one of the last days they spent at Pathfinder that year.
The first thing that went through her mind was an old song her parents listened to when she was a kid, “Blowin’ in the Wind” by Bob Dylan.
“Sometimes you just don’t get an answer to everything,” Hanson said. “Just, like, let it go.”
Instructor and art galleries director Valerie Innella Maiers invited Hanson to show her portfolio images for the RedStone Recital and Gallery Series, “The Sixth Season,” which pairs an art exhibition with music. The concert features two Brazilian musicians: flutist Sara Lima and violist Glésse Collet, along with University of Wyoming pianist Theresa Bogard.
“I love the intersection of the musicians coming to Casper, some of them making a grand journey from South America,” Innella Maiers said. “And the scope of Casey’s show is about a journey and finding her path; she’s looking at a path more intimately in Wyoming.”
The series often features Casper College faculty or recent graduates like Hanson, she said.
“The work is outstanding,” Innella Maiers said about Hanson’s photography. “… And Casey is exciting because hopefully this will inspire current students in what they can do now, not only in their medium, but also how they can continue as a professional artists after they graduate.”
Hanson started photographing 18 years ago and for years shot senior portraits and weddings. She landed a job a few years ago as the house photographer for the Casper Events Center, where she most feels in her element, she said. The photographer is planning a collection of her live performance images for her next show.
At Casper College, she graduated with honors in photography and was a member of Phi Theta Kappa while working full time. She won Best in Show in the New Artist’s Show at Art 321 in 2017 and is a permanent feature artist at the Eagles Nest Artisan Gallery in McMinnville, Oregon. She hopes to eventually be a touring photographer and curate her own galleries in Wyoming and Oregon, according to her biography.
Landscape photography was more out of her comfort zone. Being in the right place when the light is right is the most challenging part, she said.
She took thousands of pictures in the Pathfinder Reservoir. The 10 images in the show are the those that spoke most to her.
“It’s a visual journey for sure,” Hanson said.
Her artist statement is displayed in Italicized text on one wall of her exhibit:
“As each day started and ended, I realized more and more that I was on a new path, beginning a new chapter.”
Follow reporter Elysia Conner on Twitter @erconner