Forsberg's 'Lingering Wild' exhibit opens today

"Balancing Act" by Michael Forbserg.
"Balancing Act" by Michael Forbserg.

Great Plains Art Museum opens the exhibition "Great Plains: America's Lingering Wild" by Michael Forsberg today. The exhibition runs through March 30 and the artist will be present for a First Friday reception 5 to 7 p.m. on March 1.

As a Nebraska native and graduate of UNL with a degree in geography and an emphasis in environmental studies, Forsberg has always had the Great Plains close to his heart and consciousness. The exhibition presents 60 large color photographs from Forsberg's award-winning publication and the recently-released NET documentary, both of the same title.

As fans of Forsberg's conservation photography are familiar, his works offer unparalleled encounters with the wild creatures and the breathtaking landscapes of the Great Plains region. More than just a collection of stunning photography, the exhibition confronts the viewer with concerns of landscape and wildlife preservation.

"I want people to understand that I'm photographing remnants, mere shadows of what had been perhaps the greatest grassland ecosystem on Earth," Forsberg wrote.

Forsberg said he aims his work to educate and inspire.

"Hope looks forward," he said. "And it is my hope that some day, future generations will thank us for the courage we had and the efforts we made, each in our own way, to preserve and restore these treasures for their future."

Forsberg accomplished most of his photographic fieldwork by hiking through prairielands and paddling down rivers, carrying camera, daypack, and tripod on his back. Some shots required him to lie patiently for hours on his stomach in a small, one-person bivy, peering at the movements of wildlife through a tiny hole. Other shots — remarkably intimate portraits of a wary bobcat, grizzly bear, and mountain lion — were captured without Forsberg's physical presence through the use of a "camera trap," a custom-made system that activates a concealed camera when an animal passes through its infrared beam.

His book, the accompanying exhibition, and the recently released NET documentary represent the culmination of Forsberg's determination to raise awareness about these fragile habitats and the urgent need to protect them.

Forsberg's images have appeared in Audubon, Natural History and National Geographic magazines. He is a fellow with the International League of Conservation Photographers. He is also the author of "On Ancient Wings: The Sandhill Cranes of North America," published in 2004. His fine-art photographic prints can also be found at the Michael Forsberg Gallery in Lincoln's Historic Haymarket.

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— Amber Mohr, Great Plains Art Museum