German artist captures the Bakken

Self-portrait by Andy Scholz in Minot, N.D., on Aug. 15, 2013

WATFORD CITY, N.D. — A German photographer is capturing the Bakken through an artist’s eyes.

Andy Scholz, an art photography faculty member from Regensburg University in Germany, is spending several weeks in North Dakota working on a project about the oil boom.

The project is a cultural exchange funded by the German Consulate.

In addition to showing his work in Germany, Scholz will have an exhibition at The Rourke Art Gallery Museum in Moorhead, Minn., in fall of 2014.

Scholz said he has a friend in Fargo and he’s long wanted to visit North Dakota. His interest grew after hearing about the state’s oil boom.

“I read about it and I thought, ‘I have to go there,’” he said.

Scholz, who describes his style of art photography as minimalistic, is not interested in touristic photos or well-known views of oil country.

Instead, he focuses more on architecture or objects, such as a stack of drill pipe, a row of workforce housing or steel wires holding up a structure.

“I think like a sculptor, look like a painter and do pictures like a filmmaker,” Scholz said.

Pipeyard near Dickinson, N.D., pictured Aug. 13, 2013. Photo by Andy Scholz

Scholz spent two weeks and drove thousands of miles in the Bakken, including going all the way around Lake Sakakawea twice. He said he expected to see drilling activity more concentrated but instead was surprised to see such wide open spaces.

His project, which has a working title of “The Luckiest Place on Earth: Oil in North Dakota,” also will incorporate film and sound, Scholz said.

Scholz is in Fargo-Moorhead this week and will give lectures at The Rourke Art Gallery Museum today and North Dakota State University on Friday. His talk at NDSU is part of the Department of Architecture and Landscape Architecture lecture series and will focus on his work in Europe, as well as the North Dakota project.

Scholz said he’s grateful for members of several North Dakota Rotary clubs who have hosted him. Staying with families allowed him to learn more about the Bakken, as well as eat his first bison steak, he said.

“I’m deeper in it and that’s what I wanted,” Scholz said.

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