Nebraska photographer Michael Farrell never really knows where he’s going when traveling the backroads of a unique area of eastern Nebraska known as the Bohemian Alps.
“Something will catch my eye or a spot on my big county road maps, where I mark where I’ve been before, looks empty,” he said.
Farrell has visited the region’s glacier-and-wind-carved loess hills every few weeks since spring 2017 to photograph using large-format cameras. The subject of his photos are the various features of the landscape: small streams, old steel bridges, dilapidated buildings, minimum-maintenance roads and other out-of-the-way places.
Farrell’s new photo exhibition, “In the Bohemian Alps,” runs from Sept. 6 through Dec. 21 at the Great Plains Art Museum, 1155 Q St. An opening reception is planned for 5 to 7 p.m. Sept. 6, during Lincoln’s First Friday Art Walk. Farrell will give a short talk at 6 p.m.
“Some of the best places to go are where the natural geography of the land asserts and reasserts itself against the nearly ubiquitous, superimposed grid of county roads and section lines. There, due to the steady thinning of the population and decreased use, bridges stand abandoned, roads revert to unimproved dirt tracks and the rectilinear is allowed to give way to the undulating,” Farrell said. “In Nebraska, where almost all of our land is in private hands, these occasional nooks and crannies, folds and crevices are where a person can feel the tingle of solitude, privacy and an intimacy with what the land itself wants to be.”
Farrell is an assistant professor of practice in the Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications Department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is also a 47-year veteran of public media, 45 of which have been spent in the production and management of documentaries about the culture, history and environment of Nebraska and the Great Plains. Farrell’s work has appeared in Nebraska History magazine, NEBRASKAland Magazine and various books.
The Great Plains Art Museum is open to the public 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is free.