Photo exhibits showcase ‘The Way We Worked’ in Washington County

In this historical photo, pioneer men sit around a hot spring water flow in Southern Utah, the photo is part of historian Lynne Clark's collection, location and date not specified | Photo courtesy of the Silver Reef Museum, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Washington County would not be here today were it not for the hard work of early settlers, a history that can be viewed firsthand through a series of exhibits of Southern Utah photos all gathered by one woman over half a century’s time and on display at Gallery 35 in St. George.

April’s exhibit will focus on photographs depicting how agriculture and water shaped the county’s history and is part of the “Snapshots! Washington County Works!” series, a collective journey of Arts to Zion, with arts and cultural organizations throughout the county exploring how people worked in Washington County over the last 150 years.

The year-long showcase leads up to the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum on Main Street traveling exhibition “The Way We Worked,” which arrives in Southern Utah in September.

Historian, photographer and artist Lynne Clark poses for a promotional photo, location and date not specified | Photo courtesy of the Silver Reef Museum, St. George News

“Snapshots” will exhibit photos taken and collected by Lynne Clark, photographer, historian and author of “Images of Faith.” The April exhibit will open Friday at Gallery 35 in St. George. An artist reception and book signing will be held from 6-9 p.m.

The exhibit will remain until May 2, at which point a new collection of photos from Clark focusing on another aspect of how hard work helped develop Washington County will be on display.

The St. George Art Museum has lent part of its permanent collection of Lynne Clark’s work, the “Southwest Utah Historical Photo Collection,” to Gallery 35 to be used as part of the exhibit.

The historian’s own history

In 1968, Clark opened a photography studio in St. George and was frequently asked by community members to make copies of very old photos so they might share copies with their relatives. Being interested in history, she sometimes asked if she could make a copy for herself, and permission was always given.

Clark soon realized no one had collected the historic photographs of Southern Utah. Knowing the value of the images, she began the Lynne Clark Collection. Photos in the collection now number more than 15,000.

In 1986, Clark began creating a book of historic photos of the Cotton Mission which included most of Southern Utah. The book was well under way when Clark suffered a debilitating stroke in January 1989. It took several years for her to recover.

Clark still felt an urgency to tell the story of the faithful people who settled Southern Utah, their lives and how they worked, but it would not be until 2009 that she once again resumed her effort to publish a book of pictures and history of the area.

Pioneers harvest corn in this historical photo that is part of historian Lynee Clark’s collection, location and date not specified | Photo courtesy of the Silver Reef Museum, St. George News

Knowing that the St. George sesquicentennial was fast approaching, Clark focused her efforts on creating a book that would chronicle a pictorial history of the town. “Images of Faith,” with 400 pages and 1,400 photos, was completed in November2012.

Now the community has a fresh opportunity to reflect on the past through Clark’s collections, visiting the featured “Snapshots” exhibits and thinking about “The Way We Worked” in anticipation of the traveling Smithsonian exhibit.  

Smithsonian’s “The Way We Worked”

Bringing “The Way We Worked” to Utah has been made possible by Utah Humanities. The exhibition, created by the National Archives, is part of Museum on Main Street, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and State Humanities Councils nationwide.  Support for Museum on Main Street has been provided by the United States Congress.

The Washington County tour of “The Way We Worked” is hosted by the Silver Reef Museum, 1903 Wells Fargo Road, Leeds.

Event details 

  • What: Artist reception and book signing for Lynne Clark | “Snapshots! Washington County Works!” exhibit.
  • When: Friday, April 7, 6-9 p.m. | The exhibit will be on display starting Friday until May 2.
  • Where: Gallery 35, 35 N. Main St., St. George.
  • Cost: Free.

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Twitter: @STGnews


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