CBAA Project Assistance Grant Recipient 2013: ELIZABETH BOYNE

Since moving to Iowa, I’ve taken several trips down a nearly empty stretch of highway that links Iowa City, the
place where I currently live, to St. Louis, the city where I grew up. On these drives, there isn’t much to look at the land sweeps out to the horizon in a flat plane, pocked only by the lone house, intermittent fireworks warehouses, and gas stations that appear every 50 or so miles. During these drives, the color of the sky, its fiery sunsets, and the expanding and contracting clouds form a strange contrast to the fixed and placid land
beneath it.

This book is a result of the solitude of these drives. Living in a new place, I was naturally curious: who had lived here before? How did these people see their surroundings? And how does that view differ from what we see now? Prairie Fire juxtaposes found, digitally altered contemporary images of prairie fires with a description of an encounter with a prairie fire written by a settler of Iowa in the 19th century. The book aims to show how the fires, now controlled, were once fearsome, decimating forces.

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