Texas Tech University

Changing Places: The Photographic Artifacts of Rick Dingus

neon motel imageNeon Motel, Junction, Texas,1992. Chromogenic print with crayon, 16 x 20 in. Collection of the Museum of Texas Tech University Purchase with funds provided by the Clifford Jones Memorial Endowment © Rick Dingus. All rights reserved.

This exhibition surveys 40 years of creative investigations that began with the artist's 1970s "time-based" studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara and concludes with recent infrared images of the earth from tens of thousands of feet overhead.

One of a handful of decisive American photographers who refashioned late 20th and early 21st century understanding of landscape and place, Dingus has long been interested in the paradoxes of time and place, the uncertain documentary authority of a photograph, and the flexible meanings of any image.

Dingus tends to organize his image-making in assemblages or series whose borders or divisions are not always distinct. One project evolves into another; another endeavor marks a thoughtful contrast with a previous project. The organization of this exhibition mimics these divisions. An artist statement, signed "RD" at the bottom, introduces each group of images. Dingus' commitment to photography has included a long-standing interest in the mechanics of cameras and lenses and how they influence the moments that he captures.

Changing Places demonstrates how Dingus made, with no discernable hesitation, the transition from analog to digital photography, from making images that depended on dark room film developing and printing techniques to mastering contemporary printing that involves deft command of inkjet printers and complex software. Throughout these fundamental changes in photography, he modified, experimented with, altered, rebuilt, and transformed cameras to meet the needs of a changing medium and his changing interests. The sizes, surfaces and papers of the art works on exhibit reflect these changes.

Shade House Full of LightShade House Full of Light, Lukachukai, Arizona, 1988. Gelatin silver print with graphite and silver-colored pencil, 35x47 in. Collection of the Museum of Texas Tech University Purchase with funds provided by the Clifford Jones Memorial Endowment © Rick Dingus. All rights reserved.

The artist's contributions to Texas Tech University and the region are noteworthy. In addition to devoting more than 33 years to teaching in the School of Art, he helped establish new approaches to collecting photographs in the Millennial Collection at the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library of Texas Tech. He also helped organize and lead the development of the Llano Estacado collection at that same institution. Dingus also has worked closely and generously with the Museum to develop a comprehensive collection of his work, numbering almost 200 images.

In the fall of 2016, the University of Oklahoma Press will publish a comprehensive study of Dingus' photographs: Shifting Views and Changing Places: The Photographs of Rick Dingus (R. Dingus, edited by P.S. Briggs, foreword by T. Jurovics, and with contributions by S. Armitage, P.S. Briggs, and L.R. Lippard).

This exhibition, its catalog, and the publication of the upcoming monograph on Dingus' work have been made possible through the generous support of the Helen Jones Foundation, Inc.

Rick Dingus Biography

Born in 1951 in Appleton City, Missouri, Rick Dingus and his family moved to Lompoc, California in 1961. He attended the nearby University of California at Santa Barbara where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Art with an emphasis on painting in 1973 and in 1981 received his Masters of Fine Arts in photography from the University of New Mexico.

image of dingus

Dingus' photographs have been widely exhibited in more than 25 solo and 100 group exhibitions. His works also have been included in more than 130 books and articles, among them:

  • Transformational Imagemaking: Handmade Photography since 1960 (Robert Hirsch, Focal Press, 1914)
  • Llano Estacado: An Island in the Sky (edited by Steven Bogener and William Tydeman, Texas Tech University Press, 2011)
  • Land Matters: Landscape, Photography, Culture and Identity (Liz Wells, Tauris Press, 2011)
  • Second View: The Rephotographic Survey Project (Mark Klett, Ellen Manchester, JoAnn Verburg, Gordon Bushaw, and Rick Dingus, University of New Mexico Press, 1984)

Dingus is author of The Photographic Artifacts of Timothy O'Sullivan, UNM Press, 1982

Dingus' photographs have been collected by a number of major public museums and libraries around the world, including:

  • The Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth
  • The Art Institute of Chicago
  • Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris
  • The Dallas Museum of Art
  • The Israel Museum, Jerusalem
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
  • The Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
  • The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
  • The Museum of Modern Art, New York
  • The National Gallery of Australia
  • The New York Public Library
  • The Royal Library, Copenhagen
  • The Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.

Dingus helped establish the Millennial Collection archive at the Southwest Collection/Special Collection Library at Texas Tech University where he is a professor in the School of Art. Rick Dingus and his photographs are the subject of a monograph, Shifting Views & Changing Places, to be published by the University of Oklahoma Press in the fall of 2016.