STEPHENVILLE — The Clyde H. Wells Gallery of Art at Tarleton State University will host East Texas artist/photographer Amanda Breitbach’s free Oil and Water exhibit Sept. 20-Oct. 19. The artist will give a lecture at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 4; a reception will follow.
The ongoing Oil and Water project examines the contested interests of the energy industry, wildlife and human activity on the Texas Gulf Coast. The coast is both a dynamic habitat ecosystem and a billion-dollar oil and gas development target.
“I was struck by the dual nature of the Texas Gulf Coast the first time I saw it,” said Breitbach, an art Associate Professor at Stephen F. Austin State University. “It is a beautiful place, home to thousands of species of birds, fish, reptiles and mammals. Wildlife refuges and sanctuaries dot the shoreline and the inland waters and wetlands that feed into it.
“These areas support not only coastal species but also migrating birds that use the Gulf Coast as a vital resting point on their annual migrations. At the same time, the horizon is polluted with offshore oil drilling platforms, and the landscape is crowded with refineries, export terminals and other infrastructure connected to the petrochemical industry.”
Breitbach’s research explores relationships between people and land. She says that while coastal economies rely on the oil and gas industry for high-wage jobs and crucial community funding, disadvantaged communities pay the price in negative impacts to health and property.
“These issues become even more urgent as sea level rise, fueled by our consumption of oil and gas, threatens human and animal communities and energy infrastructure on the coast,” she said. “My photographs emphasize the conflict between these competing interests and tell the complex story of life on the Texas Gulf Coast.”
Breitbach grew up on the family ranch in eastern Montana. She was an agroforestry volunteer with the United States Peace Corps in Guinea, West Africa, and has worked as a newspaper photographer/reporter and a freelance writer and photographer.
She earned bachelor’s degrees in photography and French from Montana State University and the MFA from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her artwork has been exhibited in group and solo shows throughout the United States and is held in the collections of CHROMA, the Arts at California Institute of Integral Studies, The Center for Photography at Woodstock, Oregon State University, the Bone Creek Museum of Agrarian Art, and the Montana State Prison.