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Larry Schwarm on Life After Fire

A couple of weeks ago Larry Schwarm, who was chosen by Robert Adams to win the first inaugural winner of the CDS/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography in 2002, was in town to give a talk at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill to mark the closing of On Fire, an exhibit co-curated by the Wilson Library’s Public Art Committee and Ann Stewart Fine Art of Chapel Hill.

“Larry Schwarm’s photographs of fire on the prairie are so compelling that I cannot imagine any later photographer trying to do better. His pictures convince us that seemingly far away events are close by, relevant to any serious person’s life.”—Robert Adams

This spring Schwarm packed up his cameras and headed out to photograph burning fields and found that he was no longer as drawn to the flames as in years past. He’s ready to move on. So what’s next? Alexa Dilworth, CDS’s publishing and awards director, sat down with Larry during his visit to North Carolina to ask about what he’s been up to, and what the future might hold.


Larry has worked on other projects in recent years, including one about the F-5 tornado that hit his hometown, Greensburg, in 2007 and another about Kansas farmers as part of the Biofuels and Climate Change: Farmers’ Land Use Decisions project, funded in part by the National Science Foundation. And in 2013–14, Schwarm was one of eighty artists featured in the exhibit A Democracy of Images: Photographs from the Smithsonian American Art Museum. He is Distinguished Professor of Photography at Wichita State University in Wichita, Kansas.


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