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On Fire

An interview with Larry Schwarm

“One side of your face is hot; the other side is cool. You hear the sounds of the fire crackling, of birds and coyotes; you smell air mixed with the freshness of spring and the sharpness of smoke. It’s just a whole bunch of different kinds of emotions and sensations that are coming together. If I can make a photograph that triggers those responses in me, so I can remember all those things, then that’s a good photograph. . . . One of the reasons that I make work is to share it with other people and hope that they can have some of the experience I had when I took the photograph. I really don’t think there’s any better way of getting your work out there than with a book. If someone has the book, there’s a chance it could be on his or her bookshelf for many years. It’s a way of leaving a piece of myself. It’s something to go back and revisit.”

A full transcript of the interview

Larry Schwarm’s photographs have been exhibited widely across the United States over the past twenty years, both in solo and group shows. They have appeared in various publications, including An American Century of Photography: From Dry-Plate to Digital, Between Home and Heaven: Contemporary American Landscape Photography, Harper’s Magazine, and Blind Spot. His work is in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Philadelphia Museum of Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Milwaukee Museum of Art, Beach Museum of Art (Manhattan, Kansas), and Spencer Museum of Art (Lawrence, Kansas), and is included in the PaineWebber Landscape Collection and Hallmark Photographic Collections. Smith’s recent traveling solo show, Greenburg After the Storm, was organized by the Ulrich Museum of Art at Wichita State University. He is represented by Robert Koch Gallery, Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art, and Ann Stewart Fine Art. Larry Schwarm is Professor of Art at Emporia State University in Kansas, where he teaches photography. An independent film company, Breathe Entertainment, is currently making a movie about Larry Schwarm and the fires in Kansas each spring.

Schwarm’s photographs were chosen from over 500 submissions to be the inaugural winner of the Center for Documentary Studies/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography. On Fire is in its second printing.

More About Larry Schwarm

Larry Schwarm’s website

Larry Schwarm on NPR’s Weekend Edition, an interview with Liane Hansen

Photographs of Kansas for the the Fifty States Project

Talk at the Ulrich Museum of Art about the exhibit Greenburg After the Storm

To read reviews of On Fire, visit PRESS


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