Kansas-Centric Exhibition at the Lee Dam Center for Fine Art


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Photographs that show off the landscape of Kansas and the wonderful men and women of the cattle industry are on exhibit at the Lee Dam Center for Fine Art, Marysville. The exhibition, “West of Here,” opens Saturday, September 4, and runs through Thursday, September 30.

Rachael Gray Sebastian, a 2004 graduate of Valley Heights High School, is the artist whose photographs are on display.

The art center is open Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.; and Sundays from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m.

“With this show, I wanted to capture the spirit of the men and women who do some of America’s toughest work in the heartland,” Sebastian said. “I also wanted to showcase the beauty and diversity in the land of people of Kansas. I love living in a state where you can spot horseback riders in pens and pastures, and cowboying is still a way of life.”

Sebastian was introduced to photography by her mother, Sally Gray, a reporter for the Marysville Advocate.

“I would go with my mom on her news assignments,” she explained. “She often shot pictures, too, and taught me the basics. I had a 110-film camera that was pink and purple. I started 4H photography in first grade, shot for the Valley Heights yearbook, then shot for the University Daily Kansan at KU.”

Sebastian graduated with degrees in Spanish and journalism from the University of Kansas, then got a job as a reporter in Garden City.

“I was shooting with the same camera from 2007-2018,” she said. “I became the yearbook advisor for Greeley County after a few years of teaching there. I noticed a major difference in technology between my camera and the school-owned cameras at Greeley County. I decided to upgrade in 2018, started a photography business in 2019, and then upgraded my camera to professional grade in 2020.”

Sebastian’s family provides inspiration for her photography.

“Being the daughter of a journalist and cowboy plays into my work a lot,” she said. “I get a lot of inspiration from the beauty of Kansas and the diverse population of its people.”

Sebastian lives in Horace, Kan. with her husband, Sid, and six-year-old son, Grady. She has lived in western Kansas for the last decade and over the last few years has developed her photography business. Her body of work showcases some of the Kansas men and women in the beef industry who work as ranch managers, cowboys, and horse trainers. This show also features Kansas-centric images such as sunflowers, bison, barns, and landscapes.

A reception to meet the artist will be Sunday, October 3, from 3-5 p.m. at the art center. Refreshments will be served; the public is invited.

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Derek Nester
Derek Nester
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2021 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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