» Visual Art

Evolution of a Production Landscape

The Production Landscape series profiles the path of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) in North Dakota, one of the four states it crosses. For people like me who grew up in suburbia, massive infrastructure projects such as the Dakota Access Pipeline are abstractions. I benefit from the resources they transport, but the costs of such delivery systems are born by others in far away “fly over” places. Beginning in Fall 2016 I followed the pipeline route in North Dakota and photographed the landscapes it traversed. I wanted to see what construction looked like from the ground and view the range and agricultural landscapes reshaped by its insertion. The project does not attempt a comprehensive documentation of the pipeline route or the Bakken-producing region from which the oil is generated, but rather seeks to add context to an important public discussion about natural resource usage. The images highlight the physical disruption of the land’s surface and show the rural areas impacted by its construction. In doing so, the series explores the ways in which landscape photography contextualized current debates related to land-use and natural resource extraction.


Meghan Kirkwood


Meghan Kirkwood is an assistant professor of art at North Dakota State University where she teaches photography and foundations courses. She earned a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, an MFA from Tulane University, and a PhD from the University of Florida. She has received numerous fellowships, including funding to participate in artist residencies through the National Parks Service, the Vermont Studio Center, and the Lakeside Lab (Iowa). Kirkwood’s photography has been exhibited throughout the United States, Europe, and South Africa. She is a native New Englander but currently lives in Moorhead, Minnesota.