20 years photographing the barn behind American Beauty
see available American Beauty artwork
For artist Jennifer O'Meara, it all started on a road trip from Denver to Chicago, early June of 1991
"Driving past the town of Colby, Kansas on my way to a Chicago art show, a flash of white on the North side of the highway caught my eye. I took the next exit, doubled back, and discovered the barn that would become my favorite subject, object of photographic obsession, and steady friend for the next twenty years. This barn and I have a long history together!"

> view American Beauty on Black framed artwork
Storm clouds before the barn dance
Photographing through the seasons
"Every time I visit I notice different things about the barn. Each season the sunlight hits the barn from varied angles, which changes all the shadows cast by its boards and lines. It is these cast shadows that fascinate me the most."
Variables in environment = Variety in artwork
"With so many variables to consider each time I visit , I like to present the barn differently through multiple compositions, colors and mediums. I really like the discipline of seeing one subject in many ways. I've always believed in the saying 'Limitations are an artist's best friend.' I've taken that statement to heart with the Colby barn."
Exhibiting "American Icon" at the Grand Rapids Art Museum
"People ask me what's my favorite artwork out of all the pieces I've created over the years, and that's a difficult question! I mean, they're all kind of like children, each piece from the flowers to barns to trains develops its own character and goes on to live in other people's worlds. But I do have to say that American Icon feels like a great achievement. I worked on that piece for three months straight and sometimes all night long. It ended up being something that surprised me when it was installed it in the Grand Rapids Art Museum and I saw it for the first time there. The piece had elements to it that I didn't even see while I worked on it! That's very gratifying and is what makes being an artist worth the struggle."
Jennifer O'Meara's "American Icon," a 6 x 20 foot digital c-print face-mounted to acrylic, exhibited at the Grand Rapids Art Museum, 2011.
The barn turns 80
"The director of the Prairie Museum invited me to show work for the barn's 80th Anniversary celebration, and I could hardly wait for the date. I'd dreamed of going to a barn dance at that barn for over 20 years - and it was finally going to happen. The big celebration was in September last year, and of course I photographed the barn again. I'll save the story of "Starry Night Over The White Barn" for another day...
Getting the barn ready for the dance
Visit the barn in Colby, Kansas
If you happen to be driving on I-70 through Colby, Kansas, be sure to stop and visit the barn at the Prairie Museum grounds. There will probably be ladies quilting by hand behind the main desk, and Mike - the barntender - will most likely be fixing a hinge or re-trimming a window. Stay a while and notice the shadows!