Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Pavement Ends: Photos Begin

As we were driving home from Manhattan a week ago, the sky was offering a final encore for the evening. We had just turned off I-35 at McPherson and were working our way home via K-61 highway.

"If you need to stop, we can," said my ultra patient husband when he saw me pull my camera from my purse and try to capture the moment through a bug-specked windshield.

We turned off on an unfamiliar road just south of McPherson. I hopped out of the car and started snapping away. Then I noticed a sign: "Pavement Ends." I traversed the steep ditch and snapped a few more pictures, this time including the sign in the shot.

And I thought about how fitting it was that we'd turned off onto that road that very night.

Earlier in the day, I'd attended a 20th anniversary brunch at Kansas State University's Staley School of Leadership Studies. This summer, Jill sent me a link to an opportunity connected to the anniversary celebration. The Staley School invited alumni, friends, faculty and staff to submit photographs to be displayed in the building.
When the school moved into its new building in 2010, they'd asked photographers and artists with a connection to Kansas and K-State to share their work, with the thought that the pieces would be refreshed and rotated over time.
With the 20th anniversary celebration coming up, organizers believed it was "the time." The photos that had been hanging in the building would be auctioned off, with the proceeds to go to support leadership students.

For the new artwork, photographers could submit up to five images to be considered by a panel which included professional artists, faculty and former students. For each image, the photographer was to submit an artist statement about how the image could reflect leadership.

I looked through my photos, wrote artist statements and polled my family. paring the 11 photos I'd pulled down to five. Late in October, I was notified that one of my photos had been selected.
They happened to choose a photo that I have hanging in my own living room. (I have a grouping of my photos that reflect the seasons, a celebration of Ecclesiastes 3. The green wheat with dew is my "spring" image in my home.)
Now, its bigger cousin hangs as an "archival print" in a conference room on the leadership building's second floor. It was thrilling to see it there.
My parents and Randy joined me at the Staley School reception.
Conner, a leadership student, led us around the building, telling us a little about each of the new photos. We walked into another room, and I did a double take. On the same wall with an image of Bill Snyder, there was a photo that looked really familiar. Another of my photos had been chosen, and I didn't know it until I walked into that room.
But there it was. I called the image Faithful to Our Colors, a line from the K-State Fight Song.
I couldn't believe it: Two of my photos had been chosen.  My letter had said one, but there was another.
I later found out that more than 200 images had been submitted in the Leadership Lens initiative. Only 26 were chosen to be hung in the Staley School of Leadership Building. I couldn't be more honored.
And that brings me full circle back to that Pavement Ends sign.

As we walked through the building and looked at the photographs, there were images from around the world. One featured a colorfully-dressed woman in Haiti. A captivating image of a baby baboon had already been included in a display at the Smithsonian Institution after being recognized as one of the best photos in National Geographic. Another showed an elephant family ... and it wasn't taken in a zoo. It was taken in the elephants' natural habitat.
And, still, an amateur farm wife photographer from Central Kansas could take photos from where the "pavement ends" and be included. My usual habitat features cattle and farmyard cats, not baboons or elephants.

There is beauty everywhere. It's in city skylines, but it's also found on an early morning walk on a dewy morning down a dirt road in Kansas. It's just a matter of opening our eyes to the wonder.

In a few years, my photos and others that were just installed will be auctioned off as a fundraiser. This inaugural auction raised nearly $10,000 for programs at the Staley School.

And that is beautiful, too.

For more about the Staley School of Leadership Studies, click here.

I have photos hanging in K-State's College of Business Administration. Read about that here.


  1. How wonderful Kim. Congratulations. I believe truly deserved, not just for the image but your always inspiring words.

  2. Congratulations!! That is so cool! I think it is really nice that they then auction them off as fundraisers.

    1. I agree, and it's especially meaningful to me that the proceeds go to help students at K-State, my alma mater!