Mitchell Hurst is a photographer living and working in the midwest United States. His work is primarily focused on the land, observing it as a product of its people and history. Lacking strict narrative his photography attempts to layout the changing arc of the places he photographs. Generally avoiding the presence of humans, his work attempts to leave a sense of timelessness in the viewer. Mitchell studied photography at the University of Missouri but is still working on earning his degree. His urge to photograph comes from a place of insecurity about himself and the world. He observes his surroundings with sometimes a cold straightforward manner and others a more personal and subjective sensibility. Mitchell is young in his photographic career, but he hopes to make a life, and a living, with an amalgam of his many other interests and passions.
This work began from a draw to photograph the American West. After a few trips west, and nothing to show for it, I decided to look at the Mid-Western landscape that I am familiar with. Missouri’s obvious history as an origin of expansion and trade was what inspired the first images I made. I began to notice a landscape that was ripe with remnants of early American prosperity and exploration. The states early economic success was based on the confluence of the two longest rivers in the US. Once these French and Osage Indian trade routes dried up, due to dwindling demand for beaver pelt, Missouri started to take shape. Natural features reflect the history of the Union slave state where caves were used as bunkers and hideouts during the civil war. Resources changed the landscape over time, the near extinction of beavers drastically altering rivers and wetlands, granite and limestone becoming high commodities, the transition to soy as the major cash crop, and booming demand for livestock. These changes also shaped the lifestyle and culture of the state. The residue of that past is seen through decay which time and industry eroded, and the landscape that attempts to defy change. Countless small towns and family farms across the state struggle to endure the migration to cities and the takeover of large scale farming. What is left loosely pieces together the story of a place flush with middle American History.