Hands on the saddle tamed the land. Hands on the pump jack tapped the vast resources beneath the land to bring new wealth. Now latex-gloved hands work in sterile clean rooms, built on but isolated from the land, to make the microcomputer parts that take Texas and the rest of the world economy into the twenty-first century. Hands at work - the lifeways of people. In more than seventy stunning photographs Rick Williams portrays the daily lives of Texans at work in the industries that comprise the three economic pillars of the state. Ranching, oil, and now microcomputer technology have formed the backbone of the Texas economy and shaped the culture for at least the last hundred and fifty years. As different as the three industries and the people who work in them may seem, many factors link them, as Williams's photography dramatically and often hauntingly illustrates.
The vibrantly reproduced duotones in the volume show people at work and at play - herding cattle, pulling pipe, and wearing "bunny suits" to process microchips. With effective documentary techniques, Williams provides portraiture and action shots that portray the kinds of people who work and the kind of world in which they labor. Grace and power, communication with animals and humans, evolving interactions with machines, geographic loneliness, and sterile isolation are themes running through his pictures, which effectively capture the play of light on the forms and character.
Williams offers a compelling visual exploration of the continuity and change, similarities and contracts of these three ways Texans have stood on common ground.