Bones of Texas Photo Exhibit

The Sam Houston Memorial Museum showcased the Bones of Texas project created by native Texans Morgan Page and Dustin Rice at the Katy and E. Don Walker Sr. Education Center on March 9.

The traveling exhibit includes photographs of forgotten places and tales of the people that once lived and died there. It is largely focused on rural areas and the small towns scattered across the state. Page and Rice say that they aimed to show the presence of history in the great expanse of Texas.

“We as artists have strived to tell independent stories from the same places,” reads the artists’ statement. “One artist has attempted to show the vastness of Texas, the scale that one place may convey against its own landscape. The other artist has tried to weave stories of personal emotion and forgotten presence and absence in and around the architecture remaining.”

Pictures of Texas’ landscape and abandoned buildings are accompanied by short stories. Some tell the true stories of the location, while others were created by Rice when no history could be found for them.

“Where once there were the sounds of children playing, now there are just the whispers of the wind. The only visitors now are the wind and rain, along with the sun and moon. The abandonment itself is the citizenry. Where once there was community, now there are just the Bones of Texas,” read their artists’ statement.

Their work is influenced by Farm Security Administration photographers from the Great Depression. FSA pictures highlight the suffering of United States citizens during that time period, as well as their strength and resilience in response.

Watching the Cotton Grow, The Beacon of Education and The Little Zoo Up the Hill are just a few of the stories featured at the exhibit in Huntsville. These stories take place in Quitaque, Crockett and Cisco, Texas.

The Little Zoo Up the Hill tells the restoration story of a small, dilapidated zoo that was turned into a hiking trail system.

“In this decay there is great beauty. In this abandonment, this waste, there is a sense of the past, a shadow of those who came before us,” they say.

A paper map of their travels is also on display with their pieces at the Sam Houston Memorial Museum exhibit.

The couple started the project in 2018 on one of their first dates as a fun trip for Page’s birthday. After traveling over 40 thousand miles from the tip of Texas down to the coast and getting engaged, the two artists say their project is still a work in progress.

“This project sort of stacked up and developed in front of our eyes,” said Rice in an interview played at the exhibit. “It presented itself as an opportunity we really couldn’t pass by.”

They say that both being native Texans contributes to their inspiration to continue the Bones of Texas. Their love of Texas, adventure and history spurs them on, as well.

“I don’t think there is an end to this project,” said Rice. “This is something that can morph and change and I think the possibilities are endless.”

The exhibit will be on display until May 7. Viewers can find it at the Katy & E. Don Walker, Sr. Education Center, Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 4:30 p.m.


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