Observations²

A Portrait of White Sands National Monument


November 6 - February 6, 2021


New Mexico's "Cowboy Chronicler" Eugene Manlove Rhodes wrote of the White Sands Area, "Out on sands magic islands came and went rose and sank in a misty sea." Pasó Por Aquí, , 1926) Nearly one hundred years later it is still an apt description of the shifting gypsum dunes that are found at White Sands National Park. While the dunes are frequently photographed in sweeping panoramic views local photographer Emmit Booher seeks to invite a more intimate portrayal of the dune fields through his photographs. Booher explores the constraints of a square photograph format while capturing the ethereal quality and subtle tones of the White Sands

Observations2: A Portrait of White Sands National Monument was created with a desire to present a portfolio that is unlike the epic, wide expanse depictions that are synonymous with White Sands National Monument. The allure of the dunes and blue skies that seemingly extend forever is inspiring…it can also be intimidating and overwhelming to the mind’s eye. These photographs reflect an introspective and intimate observation of this environment and as a metaphor of our world today. They invite the observer to take pause…to absorb the fragile landscape and explore the diversity of this complex ecosystem.

Emmitt Booher

gallery installation of photographs of whitesands
photograph installation with vinyl quote

Emmitt Booher spent his early life living and working on a small ranch in New Mexico, which instilled a lifelong appreciation of the landscape, history, and people of New Mexico. When Booher moved to Mesilla thirty years ago, he was drawn to the sublime and magical gypsum dunes found at White Sands National Monument (now a national park). He has been photographing the dune environments since then; this series was captured over the course of the last five years.

Booher’s use of the word “portrait” and “observations” in the exhibit title is intentional, reflecting the belief of master portrait photographers that one cannot capture a true portrait of a person in one sitting - instead multiple images from different perspectives must be taken in the hopes of capturing the person’s essence. Booher believes the same is true for landscape photography. In the case of White Sands, its vastness can easily overwhelm the senses. By limiting the focus on specific elements, he attempts to develop a sense of place and to present the consistency of the ever-changing nature of the dunes.

I seek to discover and reveal, through photography, the natural world that sometimes goes unnoticed. My goal is to evoke mindfulness and contemplation within the observer. I choose to present my photographs in black and white. This is not only an artistic decision but also driven by the need to remain true to my original visualization of the world.

Emmitt Booher

infrared image of a sandy dune landscape

Exhibit Related Programming

Observations2: A Portrait of the White Sands National Monument

"Still Standing" and "Bent But Not Broken" 

Plants that make the gypsum dune fields their home and provide important habitats to the creatures that live on the dunes are featured. Click here

“Paso por Aquí I” is featured.

Inspired by the novella by the same name written by New Mexico author Eugene Manlove Rhodes. Click here

“No Sky, No Earth, Only You and Me”

A celebration of the elusive and ever-changing nature of the gypsum dunes. Click here

"My goal is to evoke mindfulness and contemplation within the observer.” 

 Booher was drawn to the magical and sublime gypsum dunefields found at White Sands National Park. Click here

Song of the Sands

An observation of the dunes and blue skys.  Click here

Emmitt Booher

Emmitt Booher shows his exhibit. Click here