EXPORTED: Colleen RJC Bratton – Chasing Storms in the Midwest

Seattle-based fibers artist Colleen RJC Bratton recently spent the month of May traveling across the Midwest with her dad, chasing storms and taking in new landscapes. Vignettes invited her to share the documentation of her road trip and her thoughts on how the landscapes she witnessed are impacting and inspiring her work.

Enjoy today’s Exported with Colleen:

Colleen RJC Bratton at Grand Canyon National Park
For the past 20 years my dad has wanted to go on a road trip to chase and photograph the big spring thunderstorms in the Midwest and Great Plains. Growing up my dad, a landscape photographer, would take us kids on adventures to see natural sites. These escapades instilled within me a desire for wide open spaces. As far back as I can remember I’ve practiced spontaneous departures. I climbed the canyons behind our house as a nine-year-old, explored the cloned tree farms in high school, sped down farm roads every summer during college and now I roam in the woods and on the beaches of the Pacific Northwest. Some of the most memorable moments happened for me during those times. The expansive landscape illuminates the smallness of myself and humbles me. It also opens up a sense of wonder and mystery: how could something be so beautiful and yet so terrifying at the same time?
I heartily accepted my dad’s invitation to come on the spring storm trip with him in May. We traversed over 7,500 miles in twelve days through ten different states; most of which I’d never been to before.

Zion National Park

Zion National Park Archway

Palo Duro Canyon

Lipan Point, Grand Canyon National Park

Sunset in Sumner, Nebraska

Storm in Hartley, Texas

Storm in Hartley, Texas

Rita Blanca Grasslands

Appaloosas in Brule, Nebraska

Bryce Canyon sunrise

Bryce Canyon

Cheyenne, Wyoming

Claude, Texas sunset

Field in Matador, Texas

Grand Canyon National Park

Petrified Forest National Park

Petrified Forest National Park
While on this trip I fell in love with the abandoned buildings and old farmsteads along country roads, their materials and forms weathered down by countless storms and gusting winds. These shifted frameworks expanded my concept of the homestead and the effects of time and trial placed upon it. Back in the studio, the colors of the canyons and parks I visited are already seeping into new work. I’ve begun sketching new structures inspired by the abandoned buildings. It’s only been a few weeks since my trip but I can already feel my work starting to consider the future and the past more than it did before.

House in Graham, Kansas

House in Rita Blanca National Grasslands

House in Rita Blanca National Grasslands

Minden, Nebraska Church Interior

Window in Snyder, Texas

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