Ragsdale's process begins with rough sketches of places and things from his past that are relevant to current themes he is considering. This exhibition focuses on a time period of 1974-78, in the regions of Northern Idaho, to Eastern Oregon and the areas between. As his working drawings solidify the dimensions of the objects which represent his memories from that era, Ragsdale considers the landscape, terrain and weather, filtered through his personal memories and experiences.
"My father took a job as shop foreman on a ranch of a few thousand acres, on which (among other things) were grown ... 800 acres of potatoes and 1,500 acres of grain. The ranch itself filled a very flat river valley with its north edge being the Canadian border. On either side, the mountains rose like two walls thousands of feet high, compressing the space between. The house we lived in for the majority of that time was just above the flat of the fields and close by the main north-south road leading to Canada. The nearest town was nearly 30 miles to the south, and where I went to school.
The weather was extreme, especially in the winter, and any snow that fell in November was sure to be there at the bottom of the thaw when April arrived. The forests in the mountains around us were heavily logged and along with the farms in the valley provided most of the jobs available in the county. It was a rare occurrence to find a classmate whose family did not own a tractor or a chainsaw, or both, or several of each."
These types of recollections inform Ragsdale's works and help to identify the key components of each work. Once the composition and components are determined as to capture the aura of a memory, schematic drawings are documented and prepared for hand assembly. Laboriously the schematics are cut out, folded and tabbed to create their final 3-dimensional formats. As each object is placed and the structures oriented, Ragsdale modifies the scenes to perfectly frame each scenario for the final photograph. From simple sheets of white Bristol Vellum, the atmosphere and lighting brings each image to life and allows for a reminiscent view of a wistful past.