A Survey of Elemental Gratitude
What can and should we derive from Kansas’ vast, rolling Flint Hills grasslands beyond a sense of human wonder from such centuries-old natural beauty?
Philip Heying sees inspiration for the centuries to come.
In a discussion in conjunction with his Library exhibition A Survey of Elemental Gratitude, an arresting collection of photographs of the Flint Hills and the plant and animal life they sustain, Heying weighs what they tell us about our relationship with – and responsibility to – the tallgrass environment. How is it possible to balance personal and civic consequences? Can his art, and that of others, help us live respectfully in the world? How does it reinforce a sense of meaning in life?
Heying, a native of Kansas City and graduate of the University of Kansas, is a former professor of photography at Johnson County Community College and a 2022 Guggenheim Fellow who has counted Beat Generation icon William S. Burroughs (among other notables) as a friend. His lifelong affinity for the Flint Hills took him to the small town of Matfield Green, Kansas, where he now makes his home within that native prairie.
His presentation is part of the inaugural Heartland Book Festival, held Friday and Saturday, October 6-7, at the Library and the nearby Folly Theater. The exhibition A Survey of Elemental Gratitude runs through December 9 in the Central Library’s second-floor Rocky and Gabriella Mountain Gallery.