Goin, Peter 1951–

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Goin, Peter 1951–

(Peter Jackson Goin)


Born November 26, 1951, in Madison, WI; married; children: Kari, Diana. Education: Hamline University, B.A., 1973; University of Iowa, M.A., 1975, M.F.A., 1976.


Home—Reno, NV. E-mail—[email protected]


Writer, photographer, and educator. University of Nevada, Reno, Foundation Professor of Art in photography and videography, 1984—. Exhibi-tions: Duke University Museum of Art, Durham, NC, 1992; Phoenix Museum of Art, 1992; Indianapolis Museum of Art, 1992; Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, GA, 1992; Nevada Humanities Commission Traveling Exhibit, 1992; NICA, Las Vegas, NV, 1997; Museum for Photographie, Braunschweig, Germany, 1997; University of Oregon Museum of Art, Eugene, 1997; Nevada Museum Art, Reno, 1996, 1999, 2005-06; Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, NJ, 1996; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, 1996; Museet for Fotographie, Denmark, 1999.


National Endowment for the Arts grant, 1982, 1990; Millennium Award for Excellence in Arts, State of Nevada, 1999; Outstanding Researcher of the Year Award, University of Nevada, Reno, 2007; Wilbur S. Shepperson Humanities Book Award, 2000, for A Doubtful River; Emmy Award nomination for video work and Best Experimental Video Award, New York International Film & Video Festival, 2001.


Tracing the Line: A Photographic Survey of the Mexican-American Border, University of Nevada, Reno Library (Reno, NV), 1987.

Nuclear Landscapes, Johns Hopkins University Press (Baltimore, MD), 1991.

Stopping Time: A Rephotographic Survey of Lake Tahoe, essay by C. Elizabeth Raymond and Robert E. Blesse, University of New Mexico Press (Albuquerque, NM), 1992.

(Editor) Arid Waters: Photographs from the Water in the West Project, text by Ellen Manchester, University of Nevada Press (Reno, NV), 1992.

Humanature, University of Texas Press (Austin, TX), 1996.

(Coauthor) Atlas of the New West: Portrait of a Changing Region, Center for the American West (Boulder, CO), 1997.

(With Robert Dawson and Mary Webb) A Doubtful River, University of Nevada Press (Reno, NV), 2000.

(With C. Elizabeth Raymond) Changing Mines in America, Center for American Places (Santa Fe, NM), 2004.

(With Paul F. Starrs) Black Rock, University of Nevada Press (Reno, NV), 2005.

Lake Tahoe, California, Arcadia Publishing (Charleston, SC), 2005.


Peter Goin is a writer, photographer, and educator at the University of Nevada, Reno, where he is Foundation Professor of Art in photography and videography. He is a prolific photographer of the American West and Southwest, with a concentration on landscape work that captures the often barren yet majestic power of the regions that earn the attention of his lens. He is the recipient of several awards, including two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships and the Nevada Governor's Millennium Arts Award for Excellence in the Arts. He has also received two Emmy Award nominations for his video work. Goin's photographs have been featured in more than fifty museum exhibitions in the United States and abroad. A resident of Reno, Nevada, he lives among the landscapes he loves and immortalizes with his camera.

Humanature revolves around Goin's concept that nothing on Earth at the moment is truly unspoiled and natural, because humans have long had an effect on the world and are consistently imposing their influence on their surroundings. The impact of human presence has been felt throughout the world from the smallest living creatures to the largest and most involved ecosystems. Nothing, Goin believes, is left in nature that has not in some way been influenced by human actions. In the book, he "goes through the many ways that people have impacted the environment throughout history, and illustrates the marks they have left," commented a reviewer on the Imaging a Shattering Earth Web site. In eight sections, Goin considers human impact on areas such as beaches, rivers, and forests; how humans have created dams, scarred the earth with mines, and displaced and sometimes wiped out wildlife. He considers the nature of reclaimed land, where roads have been built and forests have been wiped out. Some of the images in the book include a man-made swamp, the process by which zoo builders reconstruct rocks and habitats in "natural" incarnations; and the enormous Clifton-Morenci open pit mine in Arizona. Goin also documents the effects of damming, flooding, and water control on wildlife and environments, and the many ways in which human presence and influence alter wildlife populations. Goin concludes that "humans have a hand in every part of their environment," the Imaging a Shattering Earth reviewer stated. American Scientist reviewer Peggy L. Fiedler called the book a "photographic statement about the human species' all-pervasive (and, we are to believe, unequivocally pernicious) influence on the natural world."

In A Doubtful River, Goin and his collaborators document the state of affairs for the Truckee River, an important waterway in the American Southwest that originates at Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and flows through Reno, Nevada, and into Pyramid Lake. In this book, Goin and Robert Dawson provide the photographs while Mary Webb supplies the textual essays. Goin and Dawson chronicle the people, places, and history of the Truckee River in their plentiful photographs, which Terrain.org reviewer Simmons Buntin called "handsome, and at times simply striking" in their visual effect. "The book's intent is to bring awareness to the plight of the Truckee River, and to shed some light on the complexity of the issues surrounding it," noted the Imaging a Shattering Earth reviewer. Goin and his collaborators present a "documentary project that has resulted in a beautiful and quite readable book that is of interest to a great many [of] us and that should be required reading for the residents of Reno and the surrounding region," Buntin commented. In words and images, they demonstrate how the Truckee has been altered physically and in spirit, and how the damage done by generations of exploiters ought to be halted and reversed. They describe how the Truckee River has been overused as a source of water for Reno, for agriculture in the surrounding areas, and for the Paiute Indian Tribe that has lived on the shores of Pyramid Lake for centuries. They show how the river and connected lakes have suffered from damming and water control projects. They also document the effects of pollution and excess sedimentation on the river and its environment. At its core, "A Doubtful River is about the importance of water in a land of scarce and unreliable supply," commented Geographical Review critic Douglas J. Sherman.

Throughout the book, "the photography stands apart from most of the text. Many of the images recall the best of the art, although that interpretation is subjective. Dawson and Goin clearly have a feel for the region that is often beautifully translated in their photographs of natural and rural landscapes," stated Sherman. "Dawson's and Goin's photographs are, without exception, superb, defining place and the precise moments of time," Buntin remarked, concluding, "While doubt about the Truckee's future remains, the craftsmanship of A Doubtful River is without doubt."

Changing Mines in America is a another collaboration, this time between Goin and a University of Nevada, Reno, colleague, C. Elizabeth Raymond. In the book, Goin and Raymond examine the history of mining in America and the specific effects of mining on eight different mining areas around the country. As author and photographer, they are interested in "exploring not only the physical alterations to the land over time but the changing attitudes and uses connected to these places," noted Christina Rabe Seger in Environmental History. For Goin and Raymond, mining and its aftereffects are not always negative things. "Noting that popular impressions of mining are decidedly narrow and often static, the authors intermingle visual with textual evidence to highlight the ways in which our mining landscapes have evolved over time," commented Geoffrey L. Buckley in the Geographical Review. The authors recount the history of mining and how it mingles with the constant need for minerals and raw materials in American industry. Goin and Raymond look at areas that have been significantly changed by mining. In the Mesabi Iron Range in northeastern Minnesota, the vast and worn-out hematite mines became a tourist attraction. A used-up uranium mine in Texas has been reclaimed and appears safe, but must be continually monitored for radiation and contaminants. In contrast, an old uranium mine in Montana is used as a sort of health spa, where participants willingly sit within the bored-out areas in the belief that the radon gas found there will have a healing effect on their bodies. They offer a portrait of the people and mining areas in Pennsylvania's Wyoming Valley, where coal production is steadily declining and where residents resent land reclamation efforts that cover over the black hills that serve as a reminder of their history and identity. Goin and Raymond consider the meaning and symbolism of the enormous Bingham Canyon mine in Utah, a mining pit so large that it can be seen from space, and how ongoing expansion represents the nature of American consumerism. Buckley concluded that "anyone searching for the trail that connects our landscapes of mineral production with our landscapes of consumption will likely find the essays and photographs in Changing Mines in America absorbing and thought-provoking." In the book, "Goin's images, which are creatively integrated with the text, are as beguiling as they are striking," Buckley remarked. "Goin contributes a wide array of high-quality photographic images taken on location," Seger stated.

In Black Rock, Goin and university colleague Paul F. Starrs explore, in words and pictures, the diverse landscapes of the Black Rock region in northwestern Nevada. Goin contributes eight photographic essays on the region, while Starrs, also a professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, offers eight full-text chapters on the geography, culture, and residents of the area. Together, Starrs and Goin "have produced an elegant piece of work that captures the essence of the Black Rock Playa and the mountains, meadows, and desert valleys that surround it," commented Marshall E. Bowen in the Geographical Review. "No two people are more qualified to portray and interpret the landscapes of northwestern Nevada than the authors of this book," Bowen remarked. "There is no way to describe Goin's photographs except to say that they are superb and, in many instances, enchanting," Bowen commented, concluding that Goin "obviously loves this part of Nevada, and, by absorbing what each picture portrays, we can begin to understand the reasons for his affection." In his text, Starrs describes the troubles encountered by travelers to California as they experienced the blazing heat of the flatlands. He contemplates the cultural significance of the well-known Burning Man festival that takes place every year, drawing more than 30,000 people to the Black Rock region. Together, Starrs and Goin find an inseparable connection between the environmental phenomena and cultural events that occur at Black Rock, each illuminating the other in ways that could not occur separately.



Afterimage, September, 1997, review of Humanature, p. 27.

American Scientist, January 1, 1998, Peggy L. Fiedler, review of Humanature, p. 88.

Artforum International, September, 1991, Michael Covino, review of Nuclear Landscapes, p. 27.

Booklist, October 15, 1992, Gretchen Garner, review of Stopping Time: A Rephotographic Survey of Lake Tahoe, p. 394.

Environmental History, January, 2005, Christina Rabe Seger, review of Changing Mines in America.

Geographical Review, October, 1997, Steven Hoelscher, review of Humanature, p. 565; October, 2001, Douglas J. Sherman, review of A Doubtful River, p. 746; October, 2005, Geoffrey L. Buckley, review of Changing Mines in America, p. 614; April, 2006, Marshall E. Bowen, review of Black Rock, p. 327.

Georgia Review, spring, 1992, Reg Saner, review of Nuclear Landscapes, p. 144.

Journal of Cultural Geography, March 22, 2007, Joe Weber, review of Black Rock, p. 109.

Journal of Rural Studies, October, 1999, Owain Jones, review of Humanature, p. 457.

Journal of the West, winter, 2006, Jessie L. Embry, review of Black Rock, p. 105.

Library Journal, June 15, 1991, Raymond Bial, review of Nuclear Landscapes, p. 73.

Natural History, August, 1996, review of Humanature, p. 14.

Nature, September 12, 1996, review of Humanature, p. 137.

Professional Geographer, November, 2006, Jacob Sowers, review of Black Rock, p. 502.

Progressive, March, 1992, Tom Bamberger, review of Nuclear Landscapes, p. 38.

Public Historian, winter, 2001, Steven Hoelscher, review of Atlas of the New West: Portrait of a Changing Region, p. 75.

Western Historical Quarterly, February, 1993, review of Stopping Time, p. 121; November, 1993, review of Arid Waters: Photographs from the Water in the West Project, p. 597.


Imaging a Shattering Earth,http://www2.oakland.edu/shatteringearth/ (April 10, 2008), biography of Peter Goin.

Peter Goin Home Page, http://www.petergoin.com (April 10, 2008).

Terrain.org,http://www.terrain.org/ (April 10, 2008), Simmons Buntin, review of A Doubtful River.

University of Nevada Press Web site,http://www.unpress.nevada.edu/ (April 10, 2008), biography of Peter Goin.

University of Nevada, Reno Department of Art Web site,http://www.unr.edu/art/ (April 10, 2008), biography of Peter Goin.