Gallery Opening – Last Shift: Saying Farewell to Smurfit-Stone

Rocky Mountain School of Photography Gallery is excited to announce the upcoming exhibit, Last Shift: Saying Farewell to Smurfit-Stone, by RMSP instructor Kathy Eyster of Frenchtown, Montana. The collection of color photographs documents the hard hats hung on the fence outside the Smurfit-Stone mill when employees left their jobs for the last time.

Eyster has spent most of her photographic career focused on the natural world. With this exhibit she turns her lens to a documentary project on the closure of Smurfit-Stone. As the workers left the plant after their last shift, many hung their hard hats and other work tools on the fence surrounding a hand-made sign thanking the company for its community service. Not knowing how long the hats would remain, Eyster decided to preserve the display as a memorial to the people who had spent years working for the mill. Close-up shots detail messages people wrote on their hats while other images capture the mass of gear abandoned on the fence. Spots of color from American flags and stickers call attention to individuals in the overall collection. Interspersed between the photos are writings about the effects of the plant’s closing on the community Eyster calls home. As on other occasions of tragedy and loss in our history, this spontaneous display honors the memory of what has passed for a large part of the Missoula valley.

Kathy Eyster has been teaching for RMSP’s Career Training and Workshops programs for more than 10 years. In addition, Eyster is a photography instructor for The Lifelong Learning Center in Missoula, Montana. She is an outdoor photographer, specializing in landscape and macro. In addition to having her images published in magazines and calendars, Eyster has served as technical editor for three books about Photoshop®. She is a native of Illinois but has called Frenchtown, Montana, home for the last 15 years.

Eyster’s images can be seen Friday, February 4, at Rocky Mountain School of Photography Gallery located at 216 N. Higgins Avenue in downtown Missoula. The artist will be present at the opening, which runs from 5 to 8 p.m.

To view larger images click on each image.