Justin Newhall

(American, b.1970; resides in Minneapolis, MN)

Exploring the landscape, historical sites, discarded memorabilia, and makeshift roadside museums littering the modern West, Justin Newhall spent several years following the Lewis and Clark Trail through the Dakotas, Montana, and beyond for his series Historical Marker (2000-2003). Lewis and Clark are the best-known Anglo-Americans to survey the American West, and it is through their narrative that modern Western mythology has its origin. Newhall's photographs explore the energy we put into keeping such myths alive--the stories of undaunted courage, brave explorers, cowboys and Indians. Not meant to be a didactic account of present day life on the trail, Newhall's series is rather a lyrical exploration of the speculation, exploration, and exploitation inherent in our treatment of the land. Using a 6-by-9 medium format camera, Newhall focuses on the hyperboles of tourism as he subtly critiques the American consumption of history. In 2006 a monograph of Historical Marker was published as part of a three-volume set by Aperture in conjunction with the Museum of Contemporary Photography.

Newhall continues his exploration of landscape and place with his series Northern Studies (2009-2010), consisting of photographs shot in and around Churchill, Manitoba. He is inspired by Glenn Gould's 1967 radio documentary, "The Idea of North," which contemplated the isolation of living in northern Canada. Gould created a complex narrative with differing and contradictory viewpoints of living in the extreme north through overlapping his interviewees' voices. In a similar strategy, Newhall creates seemingly disparate images--from blizzard whiteouts in which ecotourism vehicles looking for polar bear are barely visible, to faded pornography he unearthed in an abandoned First Nation relocation site--to create a complex view of a single place and to bring history into focus. Several images from Northern Studies are in the collection of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, MN.

Newhall completed a BFA at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (1994) and an MFA at the University of Minnesota (1998). His work has appeared nationally and internationally, including at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, The Renaissance Society in Chicago, and the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art in Iran. Newhall is a recipient of the McKnight Photography Fellowship, the Minnesota State Arts Board Fellowship, and the Jerome Foundation Fellowship. He is currently on faculty at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.