Black & white photos capture Silver State at Springs Preserve Las Vegas

The newest exhibit in the Big Springs Gallery at the Springs Preserve juxtaposes the difficulties of providing a safe and reliable water supply in Southern Nevada with the rugged beauty of the desert.

Palm trees at Warm Springs.

Featuring the black and white photography of Cody Brothers, “Nevada Reflections: The Silver State in Black & White” highlights areas managed by the Southern Nevada Water Authority and beyond including the Springs Preserve, Las Vegas Wash, Warm Springs Natural Area, Colorado River, Lake Mead and Spring Valley.

The images are intended to provide a better understanding of past, present and future water resource challenges in Nevada.

“What we wanted to do was highlight those areas from which we get our water that’s so important to all of us for our survival and the engine of our economy,” said Curator Aaron Micallef. “We tried to focus on the beauty and the vastness of these areas and how important they are to the environment as a system.”

Lake Mead, for instance, “is the largest reservoir on the Colorado River and Nevada’s source for its Colorado River allocation,” according to the exhibit program. The lake is currently at 47 percent of capacity and its surface has dropped more than 100 feet. If conditions persist, it could trigger a formal shortage declaration. These drought conditions present many challenges, which the Southern Nevada Water Authority is working to address with an intake facility project, scheduled for completion in 2015.

A resident of New Mexico, Brothers works almost entirely in infrared film with a range of different cameras. Rather than framing his photographs, he mounts them on an aluminum substrate sealed with a UV over-lamination.

"Nevada Reflections: The Silver State in Black & White" in the Big Springs Gallery at Springs Preserve. (Photo by Aleza Freeman).

“The photographs aren’t contained by a frame,” explained Mary Bowling, a docent at the Springs Preserve. “To me, it just enlarges the feeling of the pictures … the expanse and the beauty. And the way they’re displayed, the blue wall and the aluminum and the light with the convex and concave walls really helps to draws you right in.”

The exhibit took about 16 months to complete, partially because of the seasons. Brothers was given a list of locations to shoot but he had to wait until the clouds were just right or the weather would permit him access. Many of the images feature gloomy looking clouds and stormy skies that loom above  expansive land inhabited by a wide variety of wildlife and plant life.

“This vast desert landscape is not dead, its alive — it’s a living system,” said Micallef. “Hopefully people will walk away with a better appreciation of the natural world.”