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Exposing a Superior Photographer

Ansley West Rivers is a photographer who grew up in Atlanta, Georgia. She received her MFA from the California College of the Arts and BFA from the University of Georgia.

Ansley West

Her work was recently in a Two-Person Exhibition at L1 Gallery as part of “Atlanta Celebrates Photography,” a citywide festival of photography. Her work is currently in the FotoFilmic ’15 International Exhibition traveling to New York City, Vancouver and Seoul. Her work is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia and the LaGrange Art Museum.

Additionally, West Rivers has been included in recent exhibitions at the Wattis Institute of Contemporary Art (San Francisco, CA), Perspective Gallery (Chicago, IL), MOCA GA (Atlanta, GA), New Century Artist Gallery (New York, NY), Root Division (San Francisco, CA), Kala Art Institute (Berkley, CA), Carmel Visual Arts (Carmel, CA), Kiernan Gallery (Lexington,VA), The Print Center (Philadelphia, PA) and a solo exhibition at The Southern Light Gallery (Amarillo, TX).

Ansley West 3

Her work will be published in Terry Tempest Williams new book, The Hour of Land, due out in 2016. She has taught Photography at the California College of the Arts. She has assisted two workshops at the Headlands Center of the Arts. She resides in the Low Country of coastal Georgia.

The dichotomy of beauty and sadness that exists in Southern culture influences my visual language. Ansley W Rivers #photography Click To Tweet

Her Photography:


Colorado River



Fish Ladder



Grand Valley of Colorado River


Hanford Reach



A Day in the Life of Ansley West Rivers


I am currently, working on a project called Seven Rivers.  I am following seven rivers across the United States from source to sea, thus most of my photographing is in the landscape, away from my studio.  My work schedule while shooting the rivers usually starts at 6am until 10pm depending on how much time I have at each location.  I shoot with a 4×5 camera so I spend a lot of time composing each shot. I usually shoot about 10-20 pieces of film a day.  My practice now includes a variety of handmade tools that I place in front of my 4×5 camera to expose specific areas of the negative.  This allows me to build each image uniquely.  The aim of shooting this way is to show the viewer the effects of industry, global warming, agriculture, power and the unquenchable demand for fresh water that is impossible for the eye to see. 


When I am home, my day starts with my daughter, Emmalou. We eat breakfast and play together before I head to the studio.  I work in the studio everyday from 10-4pm. My current studio practice includes editing, printing and researching for Seven Rivers.  I am also working on a series of handmade maps in the darkroom that accompany the photographs.  This process consists of building a digital negative made up of historical and present day maps, hand painting with cyanotype or van dyke chemicals each river, then exposing the digital negative on top of the painting.  The maps are important to the project because they point to the geography of each river.

Having a practice that exists both in the studio and the landscape is important to my continued work as an artist. 


Advice to Other Photographers:


My advice for artists is to always continue making, especially through the times you do not feel inspired.  Figure out when you work best and try to schedule everything around this time.  I feel creating a strong practice is the most important aspect in the longevity of an artist’s career. 


Quote About the South:

The South has been a great muse for so many artists, inspiring some of the best work in music, literature and the visual arts.  It has created a backdrop both physically and mentally from which I create.  The dichotomy of beauty and sadness that exists in all corners of the Southern culture continuously influences my own visual language.

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Kim Burdette

Kim Burdette

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