It is humble. Unassuming. Everyday and ordinary to millions of Texans. Yet, the complex network of twisted tributaries that is the Trinity River thunders, ambles, even crawls over 550 miles of Texas landscape and has shaped the destinies of Native Americans, outlaws, outcasts, dreamers, desperadoes, millionaires, military men, and many others over thousands of years. Luther Smith's series of more than fifty photographs taken over seven years of various stages and locations on the Trinity captures the river's many personalities: the meandering West Fork in Archer County, the pollution-littered shore where the West Fork runs through Fort Worth, the flooding which occasionally spills into cities and over highways.
Mike Nichols' essay on the river provides an insightful and nostalgic look into the Trinity's shaping and being shaped by generations of Texans. Thomas W. Southall's essay, "Reflections on a River's Convergence," discusses landscape photography and, more specifically, the photography of Smith.
Though Smith is active in efforts to preserve the natural environment, this series is both a call to environmental consciousness and a reminder of the quiet, humble wilderness that still exists but is often unseen. His photographs embody the natural simplicity of often unnoticed parts of the Texas landscape. Each photograph is a mood, a face of the time-shaping river. And each is its own story.
Luther Smith, a professor of photography, taught at the University of Illinois and has been at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth since 1983. He received a B.A. from the University of Illinois and an M.F.A. from the Rhode Island School of Design. Smith's photographs have been exhibited in the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, Chicago's Art Institute, the Illinois State Museum, the University of Rhode Island, the Amarillo Art Museum, the University of Oregon Museum, and the Waco Art Center. His work is in the collections of the Amon Carter Museum, Atlanta's High Museum of Art, the Portland (Maine) Museum of Art, and the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock. Mike Nichols, a freelance writer and editor, is a former newspaper columnist and the author of three books. When it comes to the Trinity River, he knows whereof he writes--he is a lifelong resident of the Trinity basin and lives on Rock Tank Creek, a tributary of the river. Thomas W. Southall has been professor of art history and curator of photography at the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas and curator of photography at Fort Worth's Amon Carter Museum. In 1996 he held a Joshua C. Taylor Fellowship at the National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.