Stand anywhere on Ucross’ 20,000-acre ranch and you’ll understand our preoccupation with time and space. We all serve as makeshift philosophers as we look out across the vast landscape or stare up at the starlit skies. We see hills and mountains carved and shaped by centuries, millennia and geologic time, and we can’t help but ponder our own impermanence. It’s humbling to think, as Virginia Woolf writes in her novel “To the Lighthouse,” “The very stone one kicks with one’s boot will outlast Shakespeare.”

Providing time and space to artists for the creation of new work is also our mission and our mantra. Artists and visitors often remark that time slows down at Ucross, or at the very least, it moves at a different pace. When we speak or write about time in this context, it’s often code for the sense of freedom we hope the Ucross experience provides for our artists in residence, as well as the benefit of having dedicated time to focus on their creative practice. But what is “time,” really? There may be no more fertile ground for artists, writers and philosophers to work than the ever-elusive concept of time. So, it is fitting that the first exhibition in the new Ucross Art Gallery centers on how artists express, explore, translate, decode or contend with time’s complexities.

William Belcher is Ucross Foundation president. 

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