Kim Sikora: How did you create the concept for this series?
Amanda Boe: My brother’s relationship to the landscape was the inspiration for this series. I was intrigued by how his role as a firefighter had given him a sense of purpose through protecting the local forests and wild lands in the Black Hills. I spent some time with him there in 2009 and the pictures I made during that trip became the foundation for this project.
KS: Can you tell us about your overall goals for this project?
AB: I’m currently developing this body of work and I plan to make a few more trips back to South Dakota over the coming months. Ultimately, I’m working towards making a book.
KS: You were recently on a shoot during the wildfires in the Black Hills region. Were you looking for anything in particular during your shoots?
AB: I make a shot list before my trips with ideas and locations in mind, but that’s just a starting point. I wanted to take more portraits for sure, and I really wanted to photograph a wildland fire that my brother was working on. It didn’t happen on this trip, due to unfortunate circumstances and timing, but I’m trying to make it work for a future trip.
KS: What was your biggest challenge?
AB: Trying to get access to a wildland fire was definitely the biggest challenge. I took some wildland fire tests through FEMA before this last trip, and I had been in touch with people from the forest service and state wildland fire department about media access, which did not come through. Tragically, four people died working on the White Draw fire (near Edgemont, SD), which my brother was also working on, and I could not get access. The Black Hills region had several wildland fires this summer and that particular fire was the only one that occurred while I was there.
KS: From your statement, “Midwest Meets West” is closely tied with your memory of this region. I’ve noticed some of your other series that deal with memory as well. When did you first begin exploring this subject matter?
AB: In 2008, I started photographing in my home state of South Dakota and I was thinking a lot about my connection to home and memory. Around that time, I read Dakota by Kathleen Norris, which captures the spirit and character of South Dakota. Her book inspired me to explore the landscape and revisit places from my past. My grandma would share old family photos and relics with me as well, and I became more interested in our family history. I started going back there more often to take pictures of the landscape, my home, neighborhoods, and family. I finally felt inspired by a place that I couldn’t wait to escape years earlier, and now I absolutely love going back there.
KS: How has your imagery changed in the past few years?
AB: I think my imagery remains personal, but perhaps is more psychological in nature these days. My influences have evolved but I’m still very much inspired by film, music, and of course, photography.
KS: Given the obstacles that most of us face as artists, it can be a struggle to make the time and space to create new work. How do you balance your personal and professional time?
AB: I have two jobs, so making time for my own projects means a lot of late nights and spending my day off working on scanning, printing, and editing. I’m still trying to figure out that balance with my personal time.
KS: Can you tell us what to expect in the next few weeks of your residency?
AB: I’m working on a batch of prints during my residency so I can start editing my new work. I’m also going to make exhibition and portfolio prints.
Be sure to stop by the lab and meet Amanda during her Monday work sessions.
Her work is also on view at SF Camerawork in Transient States, through August 25.