CASPER, Wyo. — The impeccable work of one of Wyoming’s pioneering photographers will be on display at the Mildred Zahradnicek Gallery at Casper College this month.
According to a release from Casper College, the exhibit “Photographs Made, Photographs Collected 1899 – 1935” will feature the work of Lora Webb Nichols, who lived in and photographed the small town of Encampment, Wyoming, during the first part of the last century.
A free talk with exhibit curator Nicole Jean Hill will take place on Monday, Sept. 18 at noon in the Dick and Marialyce Tobin Visual Arts Center in Room 104, the release said. Both the talk and exhibit are free and open to the public.
The show features a selection of curated images from the archive of Webb Nichols, a Wyoming homesteader who was born in 1883. Her archive consists of some 24,000 negatives that she made over the course of her career, which started soon after she received her first camera at the age of 16 in 1899.
“The images chronicle the domestic, social, and economic aspects of the sparsely populated frontier of south-central Wyoming,” said Hill in the release. “In addition to the personal imagery, Webb Nichols photographed miners, industrial infrastructure, and a small town’s adjustment to a sudden, but ultimately fleeting, population increase.”
Nichols was a rare woman working in photography, which at the time was dominated by men. Her artistic eye, exquisite technical ability and human insight allowed her to make captivating pictures and portraits of pioneer women as they worked as mothers and homemakers. She also made portraits of traveling mine workers passing through the region.
In addition to her own photography, Nichols also ran a studio and photofinishing lab, which allowed her to collect photographs made by other photographers in the region, the release said.
The Mildred Zahradnicek Gallery is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday–Thursday and is located in the Music Building. The Music Building and the Tobin Visual Arts Center are on the Casper College campus.
Lora Webb Nichols’s archives are housed at the University of Wyoming’s American Heritage Center and can be browed digitally here.