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The Black Place: Two Seasons

Walter W. Nelson
Douglas Preston

2014 Southwest Books of the Year

Few people have ventured into the remote, uninhabited badlands of the Navajo Reservation in northwest New Mexico known, by the artist who made it famous, as the Black Place. During the 1930s and 1940s Georgia O’Keeffe and her friend Maria Chabot braved the harsh conditions of baking heat in summer, bitter cold in winter, and ferocious winds to make many camping trips to the area that inspired one of the great outpourings of creativity in O’Keeffe’s artistic life. Photographer Walter W. Nelson, who shares with O’Keeffe what writer Douglas Preston calls "a great affinity for geology" went in search of the Black Place twenty years ago and has returned over thirty times to photograph it, first in black-and-white with a large format 8 x1 0 camera and over the last five years, in color with a digital camera. The two seasons of his title refer to the fact that in this region virtually devoid of vegetation, only the presence of snow visually distinguishes the landscape from the non-winter months. Inexhaustible in scope, with geological complexity dating back some 66 million years, the Black Place must be patiently experienced for its mystery and infinitude and deep secrets of time.


Walter W. Nelson is a multidisciplinary artist working in photography, painting, and sculpture. His work is in numerous public and private collections. He lives in Abiquiu, New Mexico.

Douglas Preston is the author of twenty-five books, both fiction and nonfiction.

Published By Museum of New Mexico Press

12 x 11 in. 108 pages 65 color photographs