• The Center for Contemporary Art's Artist

Bill Wright

About the Artist

Bill Wright began a successful business career after graduating from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a life member of the Ex Students Association. He co-founded Western Marketing and sold the business to his employees in 1989 to pursue his second career as an award-winning photographer and author. Wright worked among the Tigua Indians for six years researching their history and photographing them for his book, The Tiguas: Pueblo Indians of Texas, that won the Border Book Award, followed by The Kickapoo: Keepers of Tradition, co-authored with E. John Gesick, both published by the Texas Western Press. In addition, he is the author and photographer of Portraits From the Desert: Bill Wright's Big Bend and People's Lives: A Celebration of the Human Spirit, both published by the University of Texas Press; the Texas Outback: Ranching on the Last Frontier in collaboration with photographer, June Van Cleef, published by A&M University Press and Oman, an essay and photographic journal published by Fastback Books. In 2013, he co-authored with Marcia Hatfield Daudistel, and photographed, Authentic Texas: People of the Big Bend published by the University of Texas Press. Also released in 2013 was his eBook, A Bridge from Darkness to Light: Thirteen Young Photographers Explore Their Afghanistan, written after an assignment in Kabul to teach digital photography for ASCHIANA, an Afghan NGO for the United States Department of State. Also pending release is his history of a frontier fort in Texas, Fort Phantom Hill: The Mysterious Ruins on the Clear Fork of the Brazos River, published by the State House Press. His current project is a biography of Maggie Smith, a pioneer Big Bend woman. He is the owner of Southwest Photographic Workshops and has served on numerous national and state boards including the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Texas Commission on the Arts. His numerous professional and civic awards including the Leica Medal of Excellence, Outstanding Citizen award from his hometown of Abilene, Texas, and the Outstanding West Texan by the Texas Chamber of Commerce. His is a member and past president of The Philosophical Society of Texas.

Artist Statement

Chichicastenago, Guatemala, 1985

In 1985, I was working on my documentary photographs of the Tigua Indians for my book, The Tigua: Pueblo Indians of Texas which was published by the Texas Western Press in El Paso. At the same time, I was editing images I was making of people around the world that resulted in a book, People’s Lives: A Photographic Celebration of the Human Spirit, published by the University of Texas Press. For several years I had been photographing cultures around the world and noticed that even in the direst of straits, there is still hope and joy and the spirit of the people has not been extinguished. I continue to have an interest in documentary photography celebrating the various cultures of humankind.

Black-necked Stilt, Lake Balmorhea, Texas, 2014

I have loved animals since childhood and recently have become more interested in birding. Photographing the birds I see has become an interesting technological and physical challenge. With 10,530 extant species worldwide recorded by the International Ornithologist’s Union, I am not afraid of running out of subjects to photograph anytime soon. I have always enjoyed photographing landscapes, and documenting these beautiful animals continues my interest in photography of the natural world.

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Thank you to these supporters:

Abilene Cultural Affairs Council

Dian Graves Owen Foundation

Legett and Kickapoo Foundations

Robison Excelsior Foundation

Texas Commission on the Arts

Community Foundation of Abilene

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Mike and Julie Denny

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The Center for Contemporary Arts

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