(b.1946; resides Cedar Falls, IA)
Richard Colburn’s series Taking Stock seeks to describe contemporary life in the Midwest, though the photographer is keenly aware of the history behind this area facing an uncertain future. For more than twenty years he has witnessed the economic decline of Minnesota’s Iron Range towns, and now, living in Iowa, he watches the ever-increasing industrialization of agriculture and the depopulation of rural areas that it precipitates. It is a state of affairs Colburn characterizes as “heartbreaking” and his efforts to give a face to the reports and statistics are surely meant, at least in part, to raise awareness of the changes these communities are undergoing. Yet these are not pictures of mourning; they eschew the nostalgic and the sentimental. Instead, Colburn’s photographs are informed by a certain respect and delight in the communities he chooses to photograph, and ultimately he sees the project as celebration of this particular time and place.
Colburn was born in 1946 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He earned a BA in Studio Art from Western Washington University (1973) and an MFA in Photography and Sculpture from University of Minnesota Graduate School (1976). His most recent exhibitions have been Grant Wood and the Iowa Landscape at Cornell College, Mount Vernon, IA; Images of Iowa at Brunnier Art Museum, Ames, IA; Photo/Bravo at Minnesota Center for Photography, Minneapolis, MN; and Members Remember September 11 at Silver Eye Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA. His solo exhibitions include A Loess Hills Suite at UNI Gallery of Art, Cedar Falls, IA and Brunnier Art Museum, Ames, IA; Olives at North Iowa Community College, Mason City, IA; and Home at Hearst Center for the Arts, Cedar Falls, IA. His work is included in the collections of the Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, MN; Iowa Landscape Collection, University of Northern Iowa; Fisher Gallery, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA; Lightwork, Syracuse, NY; Allen Art Museum, Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH; Minnesota Museum of Art, St. Paul, MN; Erie Art Center, Erie, PA; and Central Washington State University, Ellensburg, WA. Colburn has taught in the University of Northern Iowa art department since 1982.