Nicole Jean Hill
Nicole Jean Hill received an MFA in Studio Art from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her photographs have been exhibited throughout the U.S., Europe, Canada and Australia. She currently resides in Humboldt County, California and is a Professor of Art at Humboldt State University.
Lora Webb Nicols Photography Archive
The project has involved the research and preservation of photographs by the Wyoming homesteader and photographer, Lora Webb Nichols. Nichols (1883-1962) created and collected approximately 24,000 negatives over the course of her lifetime in the mining town of Encampment. The images chronicle the domestic, social, and economic aspects of the sparsely populated frontier of south-central Wyoming. Nichols received her first camera in 1899 at the age of 16, coinciding with the rise of the region’s copper mining boom. The earliest photographs are of her immediate family, self-portraits, and landscape images of the cultivation of the region surrounding the town of Encampment. In addition to the personal imagery, the young Nichols photographed miners, industrial infrastructure, and a small town’s adjustment to a sudden, but ultimately fleeting, population increase. As early as 1906, Nichols was working for hire as a photographer for industrial documentation and family portraits, developing and printing from a darkroom she fashioned in the home she shared with her husband and their children. After the collapse of the copper industry, Nichols remained in Encampment and established the Rocky Mountain Studio, a photography and photofinishing service, to help support her family. Her commercial studio was a focal point of the town throughout the 1920s and 1930s.
A book manuscript of a proposed monograph of Lora Webb Nichols’ work is currently under review at the University of Nebraska Press. In November of 2016, PBS Wyoming aired an episode of The Wyoming Chronicle that featured an interview with me and my collaborator, Nancy Anderson, concerning our work on the preservation of the archive. Currently, I am working with the digital archivists at the American Heritage Center (AHC) in Laramie, Wyoming to create an online searchable database of Nichols’ work. Additionally, I will be with the AHC to develop a traveling exhibition of Nichols’ photographs and an accompanying catalog in 2018. In advance of these upcoming projects, I developed a website to provide a small sample of the photographs contained within the archive and a link to additional resources for people interested in finding out more information about the images: lorawebbnichols.org