Robert Adams’ Nebraska State Highway 2, Box Butte County is the second installment in Landscape with Path, a series of photographs selected by photographer Joel Sternfeld. This series celebrates the High Line’s dual nature as an urban walkway and landscape promenade, and brings the work of three eminent photographers to park visitors on a grand scale. Joel Sternfeld was invited by Friends of the High Line to serve as the guest curator of this project. He began the series with one of his own images of the High Line, High Line, A Railroad Artifact, 30th St, May 2000, which helped raise public awareness about the elevated park.
Adams has been photographing the transforming landscape of the American West for almost fifty years. Adams’s photographs emphasize the redemptive beauty of nature in the face of humans’ widespread and unremitting use of the land and focus on the intersection between the human and natural worlds. Early in his career he wrote, “The job of the photographer is not to record indisputable fact but to try to be coherent about intuition and hope.”
Adams’ billboard stands in direct contrast to the pedestrians, bikes, and vehicles traveling along 10th Avenue. The image shows a quiet country road–devoid of cars or any other human presence–where the gathering of cottonwood leaves in the foreground is the sole activity. Adams shot this photograph in 1978 as part of a survey to discover how the grand landscapes of the western United States had been shaped, in ways both subtle and dramatic, by human development. A sequence of pictures from this series was published in his 1980 book, “From the Missouri West.”
(1,3) Photo courtesy Friends of the High Line; (2) Photo by Joan Garvin; (4) Photo by Austin Kennedy.