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Contained within the remnant parts and pieces, the sorting and stacking, the archiving and cataloging, there resides entwined histories of place. Place in this sense refers both to the visionary work of Larry Giles at the National Building Arts Center, as well as to the broader histories of the Metro St. Louis region. The ongoing photographic project, An Archive of Preservation, embraces a parallel process of selection and documentation — investigating what remains at sites of cultural, social, historical, economic and ecological erasures.


To photograph a place over time raises essential questions about how we might understand past events in relationship to present day conditions. Through multiple modes of investigation, Archive of Preservation looks at shifts in social and spatial relationship—asking how can we be part of a continual effort to reimagine this region’s historical narratives.

A Memory:

for Larry Giles, Founder and Visionary, NBAC [The National Building Arts Center], Sauget, Illinois, The American Bottom

Larry was always trusting and generous- allowing me to wander around the National Building Arts Center with freedom and the long spans of time that my process of photographing requires. During my many times exploring, I reflected on the architectural fragments and the landscape surrounding the buildings. Larry’s visionary scope—his attention to detail matched by his attention to a long view—was like no other I have ever known. It was, and is still, an amazement to me.


I once asked Larry, how was it possible to remove and preserve the architectural features with such precision. I was in awe of the depth of knowledge and breadth experience this work required. Larry said very simply and with a matter-of -fact gesture,  “You just unbuild it in the reverse order of how it was built”.

This simple yet profound statement told me so much of Larry’s knowledge and experience. The statement told me about his care and attention to detail. It told me about his patience for the immediate present, but also about his care for the long view of history.


There was so much to learn from Larry. He was always willing to share, and yet never greedy or eager to announce his greatness. He was however, great in so many ways and now very dearly missed.

















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