Meet the Artist: Abby Bischoff

Meet Sioux Falls marketing director and photographer Abby Bischoff. When she isn’t binging Parks and Recreation, hanging with her cat, Nancy, or vibing out to Beyoncé, Bischoff spends her days thriving in the nonprofit world and photographing gorgeous hidden landscapes throughout the state. More specifically, Bischoff discovers the hidden beauty in everything abandoned, which you can see for yourself with the 2018 Abandoned: South Dakota calendar, found at Unglued, Zandbroz Variety, Lewis Drug Stores, and online. Get to know the quirky artist, who has turned her passion into a holiday must-have.

YOU MIGHT KNOW ME FROM… my work as the marketing director for the nonprofit EmBe. My full-time job has me promoting the great work that EmBe does through its work empowering women and families.

MY FAVORITE PLACE TO SHOOT IN SOUTH DAKOTA IS… my family farm north of Huron. I love getting up early and driving out into one of our pastures with my family’s friendly Hereford cows. They are the perfect curious subjects for some sunrise photos. Or I’ll go on a photo adventure with one of my nieces and nephews. We’ll hop in the Ranger and cruise down by the creek and find new spots to explore. Or I’ll just drive out back and watch the sunset.

THE LAST BOOK I READ WAS…The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur. But I can’t wait to get my hands on my copy of local poet R.H. Swaney’s new book Lovely Seeds. Robert and I did a show this spring where he wrote poems inspired by selected Abandoned: South Dakota photos. It was pretty incredible. I’m a huge fan of his work.

MY FIRST ABANDONED SHOT WAS… the house that sits just a quarter mile from my parents’ place. It sits on some land my family rents, and on one of my early morning sunrise chases, the sunrise was reflecting off one of the windows in the house just as I was driving by. It was perfect timing.

IF I WAS AN ANIMAL, I WOULD BE A… squirrel? An otter? A raccoon? Basically, a cute woodland creature.

I FELL IN LOVE WITH ABANDONED BUILDINGS BECAUSE… my parents were building a new house on our farm.  My parents lived in the old house while the new one was under construction. It gave our family a chance to really talk about moving and leaving the old house behind. We’d gather around the kitchen table and talk about how homes evolve into living things – beating with the memories made there. As I traveled from the farm back to Sioux Falls, I started taking an extra hard look at the abandoned homes dotting the South Dakota landscape. I wondered what circumstances existed that surrounded a light switch being turned off in a home for the last time. I’d wonder if people had those same conversations that my family was having. No matter what, I felt like leaving a home behind was a heavy decision.

I DECIDED ON CALENDARS BECAUSE… when I launched the page four years ago, I quickly had 25,000 fans, and people really wanted something to buy. Because it was close to the end of the year and I had some friends in the printing industry that could make something happen for me quickly, that’s what I ended up with! However, the reason I started the Facebook page was to hold myself accountable to do a coffee table book. I hope 2018 is the year I finally make that happen.

MY FAVORITE NETFLIX SHOW IS… re-watching Parks and Recreation for the sixth time. I watch/listen to it while I edit photos during my busy season. But I’m also loving You’re the Worst and Broad City.

LIVING IN THIS STATE, I HAVE LEARNED TO LOVE… the land. Part of my project is showing the houses how they sit on the land — it’s an essential part of the photos I take. I also love how varied the landscape is from one end to the other. And there’s so many places I didn’t know existed before I started this project! Like The Castles up in the northwest corner near Reva which you get to through the Slim Buttes. Or Highway 45 from Kimball to Miller has some really beautiful landscape, too.

ANOTHER ONE OF MY PASSIONS IS… social justice and equality.

IF I WASN’T PHOTOGRAPHING ABANDONED BUILDINGS, I WOULD BE… going to concerts! I love live music and any chance I get to see a favorite artist live is a joy.

Whether it’s Pinegrove at Total Drag or Dolly Parton at the [Denny Sanford] Premier Center, I love the wide range of tastes our city offers.

MY FAVORITE PART ABOUT THIS PROJECT IS… the community that has sprung up around it. So many people have come forward saying that homes I’ve photographed are homes that their parents or grandparents grew up in.

I NEVER LEAVE HOME WITHOUT… my camera. You never know when the perfect photo is going to happen, and you’ll never get that same sunset or sunrise or perfect moment twice.

BESIDES ABANDONED BUILDINGS, MY FAVORITE THING TO PHOTOGRAPH IS… my family. My nieces and nephews are the little loves of my life. They have such great personalities, and they humor me with selfies.






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