“Artifact- A Cultural Heritage” Exhibition opens at Western

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“Turner Tie Barn, Northern Wyoming,” black and white photo, 2004, Michael McClure. Courtesy of the Wyoming State Museum  

Wyo4news Staff, [email protected] [PRESS RELEASE]

ROCK SPRINGS, WYOMING — Western Wyoming Community College (Western) is hosting the traveling exhibition, “Artifact- A Cultural Heritage” until August 15, 2023, in the Natural History Museum. The exhibition, from the Wyoming State Museum, features the photographic works of Mike McClure alongside letters, poems, and other writings from across Wyoming. 

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Michael McClure came to Wyoming, with his mother, in 1948. McClure planned to pursue medicine in Lander, Wyoming but soon found his love of Wyoming landscapes. In 1960 his photography career began as the photo editor of the Daily Collegian at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. There he earned a B.A. in journalism. Eventually returning to Wyoming in 1971 the Publication of the Wyoming State Land Use Plan in 1979 gave McClure his first opportunity to produce a border-to-border photographic essay showcasing Wyoming. In 1980 the Wyoming Council for the Humanities and the Union Pacific Railroad awarded him grants for an exhibit containing 74 photographs entitled, “Wyoming Tradition and Transition”. These photographs remain in the Wyoming State Museum’s collection as a documentary resource.  

McClure once said, “the primary goal of a photographer should be to provide a fresh view of the world around us: an offering of new perspectives and a new opportunity to ‘see’ things differently.” 

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During the late 1990s, McClure began to document rarely-seen historical sites like homesteads, cabins, petroglyphs, and other sites across Wyoming. As he took these photographs, he realized that natural decay, development, and plunder by collectors were changing the landscape. To document these places McClure received grants from the Wyoming Council for the Humanities, the Wyoming Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, the United States Forest Service, and Fremont Motor Company of Wyoming. With this assistance, McClure produced a 90-photograph interpretive exhibit called, “Artifact: A Cultural Geography of Wyoming” which he also published as a book. The initial exhibit opened in 2003 and is still a part of the Wyoming State Museum’s traveling collection.  

Western’s Director of Community Relations, David Tate said of the exhibit, “Western is excited to host the state exhibit, “Artifact- A Cultural Heritage”. These magnificent photos taken from all parts of Wyoming show the beauty of the Wyoming landscape and rich cultural heritage.” The exhibit consists of 43 of McClure’s original 90 photos and celebrates Wyoming’s prehistoric and historic landscapes. The photographs are broken into three regions: northern, central, and southern. 

The exhibit is free to the public and available during regular college operating hours.  

To learn more about Western’s commitment to our community contact Western’s Director of Community Relations, David Tate at, [email protected] or call 307-382-1882. To see all that Western has to offer visit our website: www.westernwyoming.edu.

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