Catherine Bicknell came from London to the Palouse in the 1960s and joined WSU in 1965. Captivated by the beauty of the landscape, “I could not see enough of it,” she says, “so I drove the dirt roads to get photo images, often going out at first light to get the special light of early day.” Exhibits of her work ensued, but by the 1970s the Palouse had become more commonly documented, and for Catherine the freshness of the rural subject matter gave way to documentary studies. These included Portland, a Grand Coulee reclamation project, courtyard houses in Greece and China, a record of working families in the Yakima Valley, Texas, Mexico, and many more. A move to Spokane sparked the idea of depicting a city “as seen from the street.” The resulting images were shown by invitation May 2002 at the Met Theatre in Spokane.
To Bicknell, Spokane has a distinctively North American identity that visually exhibits a strong architectural expression and character. As if to replicate the experience of viewing the city from street level, she took all the photographs for this project with the same lens. Further, she eschewed any form of image manipulation, having her negatives printed full-frame, without cropping, editing, or any other alteration.
Catherine Bicknell retired in 2004 from Washington State University as associate professor in the Honors College and the Department of Apparel, Merchandising, and Interior Design.