A new exhibit has opened in the Photographic Archives this month: HomeLands, by Robb Hill. The photographs are documents from a long-term project examining how a person’s identity is informed by the land on which they live and what happens when the connection is severed by alterations to that land.


Hill grew up just outside the town of Utica, Indiana. This area is now changing dramatically because of the I-265 extension but Hill’s project began before the construction. “HomeLands started as a documentary project, to record the land where I grew up before big machines erased it. I have been returning to Indiana several times a year for the last ten years to hike the trails and fields I played in as a kid. With each footstep I looked for signs of the world I once knew so well.”


The panoramic, black and white, landscape photographs of HomeLands are a meditation on the idea of home. Hill posits that by shaping the land people create their sense of self and asks, “When the bond between land and people is broken what happens to identity?” The connections Hill photographs range from natural changes and decay to man-made alterations of the landscape he remembers. “I believe land makes people who they are. The relationship you have with the land you’re on sets the cornerstone of your being.”

More than simply nostalgia for Hill, HomeLands connects with viewers through rich images and icons, current and disappearing, of our region’s past and present.


HomeLands will be on display in the Photographic Archives Gallery, in Ekstrom Library, from March 12 through May 22. The gallery is open from 8am – 5pm, Monday – Friday.

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