Imagine before you a vast expanse of green-flecked hills and boundless golden fields that seem to roll and stretch into eternity until meeting the blue expanse of sky at the horizon. This image may be conjured into mind when thinking about the Eastern Plains of Colorado along with visions of farming and agricultural communities. However, there is perhaps a more alarming reality hiding “In Plain Sight,” as presented in an upcoming exhibition from fine art photographer and pilot Evan Anderman.

“Part of my role as an artist is to shine a light on aspects of our society that people aren’t seeing,” Anderman said. “I think we’ve become disconnected from the reality that it takes a massive amount of infrastructure to support our desire to live in big houses and drive big cars.”

"Morning View" - The Meadows, Castle Rock, CO - Evan Anderman
“Morning View” – The Meadows, Castle Rock, Colorao – Evan Anderman

Anderman was born and raised in Denver and grew up with a family appreciation for the beauty of the natural landscapes he was surrounded by. His first camera as a youth was a Kodak 110 Pocket Instamatic with a film cartridge that he used as a means for personal growth.

“I was a little socially awkward in those days and I think the camera gave me a way to look at and participate with the world around me,” Anderman said.

As an adult Anderman studied geological engineering and worked as a consultant in that arena for years all the while pursuing photography in the background. His appreciation for nature and geology was in constant creative collision with his camera. In 2005 he decided to pursue fine art photography and became a full-time student. The inspiration for “In Plain Sight” came after taking a trip to the Pawnee Buttes north of Greeley, Colorado.

“I had a nice afternoon hiking and photographing. But when the sunlight faded, I was struck by the amount of light from the wind turbines to the north — and especially the oil-well flares to the south,” Anderman said. “ I realized how this remote area was being encroached upon and I wanted to look more critically at the Plains as a whole.”

The decade he spent photographing the Plains proved to be an enlightening experience for Anderman. Having previously held a “romantic, old masters’ view of the region” he soon discovered a very different reality.

"Dragline Piles" - Powder River Basin, Wyoming - Evan Anderman
“Dragline Piles” – Powder River Basin, Wyoming – Evan Anderman

“Practically every square inch of the Plains is being tapped for human use — much of it on an industrial scale,” Anderman said. “The feedlots are so big that they are visible from satellites. Open-pit mines. Fracking wells, oil drilling, wind turbines. The amount of activity is staggering and there is not any attempt to hide it — yet most of us are completely unaware.”

Anderman’s photographs seek not only to document the change in the land but also to enlighten, to educate, and possibly to challenge what viewers believe about societal norms and necessities.  He does so in an astute and unconventional manner…from the cockpit of a Cessna 206 airplane.

“When you’re on the ground, it’s difficult to appreciate the scale of these operations or get access to them. But from the air, there’s no hiding from it,” Anderman said.

Safety is always first and foremost when the photographer is at work. Consequently Anderman’s plane has been outfitted with state of the art avionics that keep the aircraft flying straight and level. Only if conditions permit does the photographer divert his attention to his camera and composing the ideal shot. Just what is the ideal shot for this geologic engineer turned fine art photographer?

"Magenta Bloom" - Fort Morgan, Colorado - Evan Anderman
“Magenta Bloom” – Fort Morgan, Colorado – Evan Anderman

“Photography is all about seeing. Once you know how something is made, you see everything that went into making it. The rocks tell you their story. To fly over the western US in an airplane is better than any geology textbook. You get to see examples of practically every different geologic process laid out before you. I have only just realized that I fly because I want to look at the geology all around me,” Anderman said.

Although there is destruction captured in many of the images in Anderman’s body of work his optimism prevails.

“We have the ability to change our actions given the right motivation. I’m hopeful that as more people grow up with an environmental mindset it will become a larger factor in the decisions that we make as a society,” Anderman said.

Exhibition runs September 17 – December 31, 2016 at the Denver Public Library Central Branch, 10 W 14th Ave Pkwy, 5th floor, Denver, CO, 80204.

Opening Reception with the artist: September 17, 2 – 4 pm. Artist Lecture: November 12, 2 – 4 pm

This exhibition and others like it are positive steps in that direction. For details on In Plain Sight and to see what’s next for Evan Anderman and to follow his work check out Evan Anderman.