“Smith won the prize for his intelligent choice of a subject hidden in full view that is of paramount importance. His work is by turns humorous and piteous, elegiac and ironic, and cumulatively very powerful for he has shaped an essay from aesthetically elegant, delicately nuanced pictures that are pitch perfect, in the spirit of the American West and in keeping with its long history of fine photographs.”—Maria Morris Hambourg, Prize Judge
“These images create a portrait of the systems of control which prepare the land for habitation and also guard them against nature. In making these photographs I wanted the manmade and natural elements of the landscape within each picture to communicate in a more extended and elaborate dialogue.”—Steven B. Smith
“Steven B. Smith looks at the suburban sprawl of Utah, California, and Colorado and sees waste, hubris, folly, and great formal beauty. . . . [T]hese photographs set up a tension between the sadness inherent in the rampant ‘Californization’ of the West and the machine-like but also strangely organic beauty to be found in the process. Smith’s work, and his book, are both disturbing and lovely.”
(R. K. Dickson, The Bloomsbury Review
"[A] rebellious, defiant vitality rooted in the American suburban West. . . . Smith's black-and-white photographs [include] stark expanses where the monumental blankness of a Utah or Colorado sky meets the equally blank geometry of irrigation pipes of two-car garages. Between mountains and fences, between a tremendous rock face and giant stack of plywood, Smith's images record not so much a contrast as two violent absences joining as a single force. Landfill, seedling, turnabout, heating coil collude with the sky and mountains in a triumph of disproportion: scale not so much confused or lost as irrelevant. . . ."
(Robert Pinsky, Slate.com
About the Author
Steven B. Smith is a Professor of Photography at the Rhode Island School of Design. He was born in American Fork, Utah, and spent his early years in the small communities around Salt Lake City. He has been awarded a Guggenheim and an Aaron Siskind Fellowship for Photography.
Maria Morris Hambourg, Founding Curator of the Department of Photographs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, was the prize’s judge. Her career began at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where she worked closely with John Szarkowski in the Department of Prints and Photographs. She has curated such exhibitions as Thomas Struth; Avedon’s Portraits; Walker Evans; Earthly Bodies: Irving Penn’s Nudes, 1949–1950; and Carleton Watkins, the Art of Perception.