I don’t try for any stock formula approach. I’m not looking for the specific visual thing. I just kind of end up on the water tower, and there it is.
-Todd H. Strand
Todd Strand is known for his black and white photography that attempts to capture “honest and indiscriminate” scenes, primarily of North Dakota. He often takes photos with a Widelux camera that has a rotating lens which produces a panoramic image, often with a Funhouse effect. His work has been described as producing a “sensitive record of moods and attitudes of other senses besides the visual” by Fargo Forum writer Sylvia Paine.
This black and white photo was taken of the Chilcot School just south of White Earth, ND for the Dakota Photo Documentary Project of 1976. It shows the entire school body of 11 students and their teacher in front of what looks like a one-room schoolhouse. The building appears to be run down with its faded, dirty white paint chipping. A tattered and frayed American flag flies in the strong wind. There are no other buildings within close proximity of the school. A short row of buildings can be seen in the far distance. Despite the appearance of a poverty-stricken small town, the children all look nicely dressed in slacks and sweaters or T-shirts. Many of the children are squinting and the teacher is attempting to hold her hairdo, looking exasperated in the very strong winds. Strand captured the essence of the harsh environment and the steadfast determination and resilience of the North Dakota people.
His work has been exhibited at Plains Art Museum in Fargo, the North Data Museum of Art in Grand Forks, and several others within the Midwest, especially in North Dakota.
Strand donated the photograph to Plains Art Museum in 1981.
As a result of this prairie environment, my photography concerns itself with looking around honestly and seemingly indiscriminately.
-Todd H. Strand
Todd Hunter Strand is known for his honest and sensitive portrayals of small town North Dakota.
Strand was born in Rugby, ND in January of 1951. His father was a photographer and often brought Strand to assist him to his wedding shoots. Strand attended Concordia College in Moorhead, MN, from 1969-1971 and went on to earn his Bachelor’s Degree in Printmaking from the University of Arkansas in Fayatteville in 1974.
After doing some freelance work, Strand was asked to participate in the 1976 Dakota Photo Documentary Project, which was a photo survey of every single town in North Dakota. Since then Strand has never strayed from his home for long. Even when he photographed a skating rink in New York, the resultant photo reminds the viewer of the wide expanse of the North Dakota horizon. He lives in Bismarck, ND where he is the Curator of Photography for the State Historical Society of North Dakota. Strand continues to work primarily in North Dakota, capturing what he sees as real-life scenes.
Todd H. Strand, The Student Body and Teacher My Helling at the Chilcot School south of White Earth, ND, 1976, black and white photograph, 12 1/2 x 20″