by Olivia Discon
Derrick Birdsall, the current director of the Sam Houston Memorial Museum, is a photographer who seeks to capture remote landscapes with the vivacity of the context behind them. Birdsall’s “Under the Texas Sky” exhibition is now on display at the Wynne Home, and I had the privilege to both assist and attend the opening reception on May 23, 2023.
Despite the severe weather, there were several people in attendance. Those who arrived early had the opportunity to mingle and treat themselves to some refreshments provided by the Friends of the Wynne.
Beginning with a brief opening statement, Cultural Services Manager Sarah Faulkner spoke about a few upcoming events that the Wynne Home is hosting, as well as introduced the man of the hour.
Derrick encouraged the attendees to take photos of what interests them in line with the moment, without influences of technology or trends. Many of the pictures that are on display are the result of exploring what was “just around the corner”, with incredible scenic landscapes as a result.
Throughout the reception, we were able to ask Derrick questions about any particular work and the story behind it. One discussion that particularly fascinated me was “Scratch That Itch”: a charming picture of a herd of bison at Caprock Canyons State Park. At first glance, I wouldn’t have assumed the significance of the herd outside of its ideal placement in front of the canyons. However, with the guidance of the photographer himself, I was able to grasp how remarkable it was! The Goodnight Herd is one of the oldest-living domesticated bison, who were restored from near-extinction and returned to their native land. The perspective of a photographer with great historical knowledge captivates the viewers to not only gain the insight of the photo itself, but also the historical context.
The gallery was a wonderful way to incite conversations in the community surrounding the art of photography and the natural world. Many thanks to Derrick Birdsall for sharing his stories and photographs, and to the Wynne Home for hosting this exhibition!