No Place Like Home

There is immense value in personal and collective connections to place. Place gives physical form to our identities and shapes our relationship with the environment. No Place Like Home is a creative research project about our changing relationships with Kansas landscapes. Outside perceptions of Kansas are often limited to popular culture clichés. It is a
drive-through state, a flyover state, a liminal state of being. My own concept of home is equally transient. I have always
felt like someone just passing through, but Kansas is the first place I have chosen for myself. In this body of work, I explore
what it means for home to exist in a place colloquially referred to as the middle of nowhere.

The project is framed within the apparatus of large format film photography, which is well-known as a slow, deliberate approach to making images. Working in this way makes me feel intimately connected to the landscapes I photograph.
The process becomes part of the final work. The effort involved lends additional weight to the viewing of each image. Photographs in black and white require a closer look to find the beauty presented in crisp details, rich tones, and diverse textures. The use of traditional, analog processes also acts as a reminder that we typically view Kansas and the broader Midwest region through a nostalgic lens. The presence of this distinct visual style in a contemporary body of work blurs
the relationship between the past, present, and future, calling into question how we understand Kansas and its environment.

Over the course of the project, I have come to understand that the lived experiences of many Kansans are intimately tied to the physicality of place. Farming, ranching, mining, and oil extraction—the livelihoods of families and communities across the state—all rely on the land. At the same time, the land also relies on us. This relationship is vital to building a better future for Kansas and its environment. However, the beauty and ecological significance of the Great Plains is often overlooked. My work combines environmental communication and artistic expression to appreciate the habitat of home.


This project was made possible through funding awarded by KU’s Center for Undergraduate Research. Additional opportunities presented by the Kansas Abroad summer trip and research seminar, offered through KU’s Environmental Studies program, transformed the nature of the work.

Grace Worden, Spring 2024