William “Willy” Sutton has an eye like no other. And in Jesuit fashion, he’s built a career around using his talents in purposeful ways.
The acclaimed photographer and associate professor of fine and performing arts is known for many things: his exploration of the natural world and how it intersects with American values, his inspiring published works, and his passion for teaching and helping students use their talents to benefit others. Recently he’s added another significant achievement to the list. Sutton was awarded a highly competitive and prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship, which recognizes exceptional achievement and promise, including in the creative arts.
Sutton recently shared with regis.edu some insights into his passions and his plans ahead.
Years at Regis: 22
Published works: “Wyoming Grasslands” (2015) and “At Home in the West: The Lure of Public Lands” (2013)
What drives your passion for photography?
Photography is, for me, a way to know and explore the world.
What is your favorite thing about teaching?
Empowering students to follow their passions and dreams
Can you tell us about your current project?
I am just finishing a three-year project photographing grasslands in Wyoming. This is a project with another photographer supported by the Nature Conservancy of Wyoming and the Buffalo Bill Center of the West (BBCW). The quality and quantity of grass describes soil, topography, hydrology, geology, weather, climate and utilization by animals including humans. To photograph grass is to not only look at organic structure of the land, but to also consider the economics expressed in place. Included in the project are a publication with about 120 pictures, a large exhibition at the BBCW and a smaller exhibition that will tour 15 community libraries in Wyoming.
How will you use the grant?
I will use the Guggenheim Fellowship to investigate the places in Wyoming where traditional and new economies intersect, to know the people who live at those intersections, and to make pictures that explore the values and forces that shape our time. This is what interests me more than anything: the beauty of the land and the dignity of American values and how they interact and are revealed in the landscape.
What advice would you give your students about their ability to make an impact?
Go for it! Imagine and expand the possibilities. Aim high and have the faith to believe in yourself and the world around you. Connect with people and pursue your dreams.
Come learn with professors who bring to the classroom expertise and passion for what they do.