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Four Corners.

The American Southwest is a photographer's paradise. The area known as the Four Corners epitomizes this, yet it is frequently bypassed by tourists. Located at the quadripoint where Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado meet, the Four Corners area is only a six-hour drive from the Phoenix airport.

The sparsely populated region features an almost surreal landscape of towering buttes, mesas, and deep canyons. Although it is semi-arid, it is characterized by a rich colour palette of red and ochre. Sandstone formations hundreds of feet high resemble massive sculptures from earlier eras. Deep valleys and canyons expose multi-patterned geological layers of the earth's crust. It is not difficult to imagine that the region would have looked exactly the same several hundred years ago, or even thousands of years ago. One cannot help but wonder what travellers must have thought when they first encountered this vast, intimidating, but strikingly beautiful land. It is hardly surprising that the area has been the setting for countless Western movies. Clearly, those who inhabited or traversed such terrain must have been hardy, determined, and courageous men and women.

Much of the land in the region is owned by semi-autonomous native American nations (Navajo, Utes, Hopi, and Zuni). The topography and character of the land are reflected in their proud cultures. Many of the valleys, canyons, and sandstone monoliths have sacred meaning for them. This is easy to understand. The vastness of the land, the endless sky, the immense scale of the natural monuments, and the quiet all reinforce a sense of spirituality.

The accompanying photographs were taken in the spring of 2015 in Canyon de Chelly, Arizona; Monument Valley, Utah; and Valley of the Gods, Utah.

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TOM WILLIAMS served Queen's University from 1977 until 2009 in numerous capacities, including Dean of the Faculty of Education, Vice Principal (Operations), and Principal. He is a Professor Emeritus in the Scholl of Policy Studies and the Faculty of Education.

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Author:Williams, Tom
Publication:Queen's Quarterly
Article Type:Photograph
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 22, 2015
Words:379
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