Rediscovering the Prairie: Exhibition documents two CC alumni’s expedition across the North American West

Family weekend: A time when Colorado College not only hosts fun, leisurely activities for students and their families to enjoy but also presents exhibits to the public. “Rediscovering the Prairie,” a project launched by two CC alumni Robin Walters and Sebastian Tsocanos (Class of 2012), opened as a multimedia exhibit in the Coburn Gallery this past weekend.

The exhibit reveals photos and descriptions of the places, people, and animals that the alumni experienced and interacted with during their extensive journey across the North American prairie. It includes large, pigmented photos of green grasslands and stocked barns, as well as vivid shots of the wildlife in action; these shots include photos of brown horses trotting through expansive pastures, guard donkeys chasing away stray livestock, and white sheep chewing on leafy spurge.

In addition to these authentic, visual images, the exhibition also features Walters and Tsocanos’ poems and descriptions about their interactions with farmers, wildlife, and the environmental issues that they ran into during their journey. These written illustrations can be found in the gallery’s glass display.

After graduating from Colorado College in 2012, Walters and Tsocanos decided to immerse themselves in their passion for environmental conservation and embarked on a 600-mile horseback expedition across the North American West titled “Rediscovering the Prairie.” The trip lasted three months and stretched across the western plains of Montana and Wyoming.

During this journey, the two experienced the breathtaking visuals of the Great Plains and interacted with the wildlife, ranchers, and farmers who maintained the rural land and their livestock. One of the most striking aspects of their trip, Tsocanos said, was the “diversity of space.”

“There were enormous types of land with all different kinds of plants, insects, and birds,” he said. “We drive by the prairie lands all the time, but we never engage ourselves in the environment or interact with the community. I loved being immersed in such a vast space with so many different species.”

Despite the visual allure of the Great Plains however, Walters and Tsocanos’ trip also introduced them to the land’s extensive range of environmental issues.

“Native land is being plowed for grain production, and the land that the Conservation of the Grassland Reserve Program has tried to reserve is also being plowed to combat the increasing prices for wheat and corn,” said Tsocanos. “Not only that, but the Keystone XL Pipeline in Montana is polluting the land and destroying the wildlife’s’ natural habitat. Our trip expanded my awareness on these issues ”

To learn more, visit the “Rediscovering the Prairie” exhibition in the Coburn Gallery in Worner and visit Robin and Sebastian’s website at www.rediscovertheprairie.org.

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