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Visions of Big Bend
A Photo Project by Thomas J. Avery
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sunrise over the Chisos

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Artist Statement

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The Big Bend region is located in the Chihuahuan Desert in southwestern Texas. It is defined by its southern boundary, the Rio Grande River as it makes a wide U-shaped curve going west to east. Big Bend National Park lies in the center of this region and is flanked by different areas of interest, including Big Bend Ranch State Park, the Black Gap Wildlife Management Area, and the villages of Study Butte-Terlingua. This project primarily focuses on Big Bend National Park, and to a lesser extent, the adjacent areas.

My first visit to Big Bend National Park in September of 2004 introduced me to a vast, rugged landscape that was wild, dangerous, and beautiful. I have never felt more alone and cut off from the rest of the world, yet completely at peace and connected with nature.

The funky community of Study Butte-Terlingua thrives in this desert harshness and lives in harmony and awe of the rough surroundings. You can quite easily lose several layers of inhibition when you spend time there and mingle with the friendly local folks.

It is hard to describe the allure of Big Bend to those who have not been. It is remote, requiring lengthy travel to reach, and modern conveniences are few and far between. Water is scarce and the weather sometimes harsh. For the unprepared, it surely proves to be inhospitable, dangerous, and even deadly.

Most folks state they've heard of Big Bend and have always wanted to visit there, but probably never will. The few who do venture out there quickly become attached to the area and frequently return. This is evident by the number of "fans" of Big Bend at BigBendChat.com.

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The desert itself is probably far different from what most first time visitors expect. It is filled with rugged vegetation and creatures that thrive in the harsh conditions. Flowers bloom in the cooler and wetter seasons and paint the landscape in color. A little exploration takes visitors to interesting surprises, such as hidden waterfalls, deep canyons, and springs that support massive, green Cottonwood trees.

The Chisos Mountains, a complete mountain range, sit in the heart of the park. Their high regions, called islands in the sky, contain cooler and wetter climates than the desert that surrounds them. Forests of piñon pine, oak, and juniper top the mountains in green.

Numerous deep and rough canyons exist within the massive 1200 square mile expanse of the park. The Rio Grande River supports a lush (in contrast with the surrounding desert) riparian boundary and flows through three massive canyons within the park: Santa Elena, Mariscal, and Boquillas.

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The purpose of this life long project is to simply communicate my experiences and feelings from my visits to Big Bend. It has a unique beauty and charm that I've not experienced any where else. I am drawn to the specific features and characteristics of the area, but what I enjoy most is the experience.

The solitude of the desert is amazingly peaceful. You forget about the rest of the world and superficial worries while spending time there. It allows you to be quiet with yourself, and it creates an environment in which you can learn in a deep and meaningful way who you really are as well as your companions.

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All photos are © copyright of Thomas J. Avery. Usage of any photo is strictly prohibited unless written approval is obtained from Thomas J. Avery. Unauthorized use of any photo is prohibited by law. The photos here are for you to view and not to take. Don't steal photos!

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