From my first moments on the Gros Ventre Confluence Property, I could tell that Nature runs free there. It was isolated, a quiet sanctuary, glowing green with the strong growth of a wet spring. The mule deer and elk I encountered had lustrous coats, and seemed to relax in the serenity of the environment. A pair of bald eagles flew overhead, screeching to notify me of their young. I walked across the dewy grass meadows and through the glowing cottonwood forests, looking for a subject to photograph.
I generally look for a natural feature with a strong edge, good texture, and interesting colors. Water often creates a bold edge and has been one of my favorite subjects. The Gros Ventre Confluence Property sits surrounded by the confluence of the Gros Ventre and Snake rivers, and I expected to fine some potential edges along the major channels of the two rivers. While walking the banks of the rivers I found a few interesting edges, but nothing that struck my eye. On my way back through the property I came across a spring creek that also flows into the confluence. The water was clear as glass, and I could see the yellow rocks that covered the bed of the creek. The grass on either side of the creek was a beautiful green and had a nice dark brown line that defined the edge between water and land. I decided that the spring creek would be my subject for my photos. Over two days, I took photos of the spring creek that became the base for my collage.
My inspiration for seeking to be paired with this JHLT protected property for the View22 Project came from my childhood days spent growing up in Kelly beside the Gros Ventre river. The river was an influential feature of the valley, and I have spent countless days swimming, kayaking, and fishing in its upper waters. Despite this, the lower section has been a foreign stretch to me – I had only ever glimpsed the confluence when floating down the Snake. Through the photographs I took of the Gros Ventre Confluence Property, I learned a lot about the meeting of the two rivers, and began to contemplate what I was capturing through my art. The Confluence of a river is an interesting place. The meeting of two different rivers, blended together to create a new identity, one that will again be changed when the next stream or river unites. Unknown to me before this project, the spring creek also contributes to the identity of this confluence. In the end, I decided that I would use the photos from the spring creek to create an abstract representation of the Confluence.
– Scotty Craighead