The M. Reichmann Grant
For Emerging Photographers
When Tumbleweeds Attack
Theo Stroomer - Colorado, USA
I began hearing stories in 2014. Tumbleweeds were invading small western towns, piled so high that they trapped people inside their homes and blocked roads. They now return each winter with a vengeance, taking over entire communities on the Great Plains.
Denver is my home. Tumbleweeds are nearly impossible to fight in rural areas near here, because Russian thistle and its cousins thrive in drought. Each plant spreads tens of thousands of seeds when it tumbles. Years of dry weather, changes in agriculture and grazing, and the high winds of the west are breeding millions of tumbleweeds that then bury small towns in Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, and Kansas.
These infestations reveal a grey area in our evolving relationship with the environment. They are serious, but they’re also, well… weird. Funny, even. People tend to present environmental issues as black and white, clear cut, life and death. To me, this problem is fascinating because it blurs those distinctions.
Should we adapt to the tumbleweeds, coping with them every season like snow or rain? Will we introduce another organism to try and eradicate them, as the UDSA is currently considering? What is the right way to face the not-so-terrible-but-still-pretty-weird-and-significant effects of drought and climate change?
I am continuing my work, which uses a Mamiya 6 system. I will produce a hand sewn book of my photographs. I aspire to create an exhibit that actually includes rooms full of tumbleweeds, too (hey, they’re free!)
As an emerging editorial photographer, I am also pursuing publication with a number of national magazines. I will be doing a Kickstarter campaign and Instagram takeovers connect with a larger audience and help with production costs.
The M. Reichmann grant would facilitate all of these goals. I want this story to be seen and shared widely, and your generosity would be invaluable in making it possible.
Thank you for reading and considering my application.