Exhibition: ‘Fourteen Places to Eat: A Narrative Photographing Rural Culture in the Midwest’ by photographer Kay Westhues at the Snite Museum of Art, Notre Dame, Indiana

Exhibition dates: 31st May – 19th July 2009


Kay Westheus. 'CSX railroad building, Walkerton' 2005


Kay Westhues (American)
CSX railroad building, Walkerton



I really like this work. An insightful eye, sensitive, tapped into the community that the artist is documenting. Attuned to its inflections and incongruities, the isolation and loneliness of a particular culture in time and place. There are further strong photographs from the series on the Kay Westhues website. It’s well worth your time looking through these excellent photographs. And observing the wonderful light!

There is an interview with Kay Westhues on the Daily Yonder website.


All photographs © Kay Westhues with permission and thanks, used under Creative Commons 2.5 License with proper attribution. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.


Kay Westheus. 'Man with patriotic cast, Original Famous Fish of Stroh' 2005


Kay Westhues (American)
Man with patriotic cast, Original Famous Fish of Stroh


Kay Westhues. 'Knox laundromat' 2005


Kay Westhues (American)
Knox laundromat



The Snite Museum of Art announces the opening of the exhibition: Fourteen Places to Eat: a Narrative: Photographing Rural Culture in the Midwest, opening on Sunday, May 31,2009.

Kay Westhues is a photographer who is interested in documenting the ways in which rural tradition and history are interpreted and transformed in the present day. Kay shares her intention for this series of work:

“For the past five years I have been working on a series of photographs depicting rural culture in Indiana and the Midwest. This project was inspired by my memories of growing up on a farm in Walkerton, Indiana, and observing first hand the shifting cultural identity that has occurred over time and through changing economic development. I moved back to Walkerton in order to help care for my ageing parents in 2001.

These photos mirror my personal history, but I am also capturing a people’s history grounded in a sense of place. My intention is to celebrate rural life, without idealising it.

The overall theme since the project’s inception is the effect of the demise of local economies that have historically sustained rural communities. Many of my images contain the remains of an earlier time, when locally owned stores and family farms were the norm. Today chain stores and agribusiness are prevalent in rural communities. These communities are struggling to thrive in the global economy, and my images reflect that reality.

Most recently I have focused on the complex relationship between farmers and domesticated animals. I make many of my images at Animal Swap Meets and sale barns, places where animals are bought and sold. Family farms are quickly being replaced by large-scale food production, and these events still draw smaller farmers and the local people who support them.”

Why fourteen places to eat?

“One of my biggest complaints after moving to Walkerton was that there were not enough places to eat out. Or, rather, practically no places to eat out. So I was happy when news arrived that a new restaurant was opening there. Imagine my surprise when I read a letter to the editor in the local paper against the new restaurant. The letter stated we already had enough places to eat in this town. The writer counted a total of fourteen places to eat, which included four restaurants, three gas stations, four bars, a truck stop, a convenience mart, and a bowling alley.”

Ms. Westhues studied photography at Rhode Island School of Design and Indiana University, Bloomington. She has a BS degree in Photography and Ethnocentrism from the Indiana University Individualised Major Program (1994), and an MS in Instructional Systems Technology at Indiana University (1998). She currently lives in Elkhart, Indiana, and is completing a five-year project photographing rural culture in the Midwest. This series is a visual exploration of the ways rural identity is defined in contemporary society.

Press release from the Snite Museum of Art Cited 20/06/2009 no longer available online


Kay Westheus. 'Chicken bingo, Francesville Fall Festival' 2005


Kay Westhues (American)
Chicken bingo, Francesville Fall Festival


Kay Westheus. 'Patriotic hammers ($3.00)' 2005


Kay Westhues (American)
Patriotic hammers ($3.00)


Kay Westhues. 'Parked trailer, Ligonier' 2006


Kay Westhues (American)
Parked trailer, Ligonier


Kay Westheus. 'Lunch at the Crockpot, Walkerton (The Young and the Restless)' 2007


Kay Westhues (American)
Lunch at the Crockpot, Walkerton (The Young and the Restless)


Kay Wesheus. 'Momence Speed Wash, Momence IL' 2007


Kay Westhues (American)
Momence Speed Wash, Momence IL


Kay Westheus. 'Mary Ann Rubio, Family Cafe, Knox' 2007


Kay Westhues (American)
Mary Ann Rubio, Family Cafe, Knox



The Snite Museum of Art
at University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Friday 10.00am – 5pm
Saturday 12.00 – 5.00pm
Closed Sundays and Mondays

The Snite Museum of Art website

Kay Westhues website


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3 Responses to “Exhibition: ‘Fourteen Places to Eat: A Narrative Photographing Rural Culture in the Midwest’ by photographer Kay Westhues at the Snite Museum of Art, Notre Dame, Indiana”

  1. October 23, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    Thanks for posting my work – just found this today! – Kay

  2. 2 Joseph
    September 20, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    A boring Sunday afternoon so I start scaznning things on the internet and i dont even remember how I found this site but it turned my afternoon in a ver enjoyable time with my cup of blueberry tea and honey, Thanks

  3. 3 katie hartsell
    September 18, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    Very wonderful work. I feel “at home with these pictures!”

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, an art and cultural memory archive, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

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