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Prairie Air: Fargo native makes scenes come to life

Through the lens of his camera Scott Thuen captures the emotions that many people feel in their hearts. When he focuses his camera on a horizon that seems to stretch forever, the images he creates mean different things to those who view them.

His love and respect of nature illuminates ordinary scenes with just the right amount of lighting and shadows.

Thuen pauses for a minute when asked why he finds beauty in everyday scenes that others look past after a quick scan.

"I really don't know," he said. "I guess it is just something inside me that looks at the world differently. Most of the time I am shooting images of places I love."

All of the Fargo native's photos are taken in North Dakota and reflect his love and respect for the state and its vast, breathtaking landscapes and panoramic views.

Thuen, who owns Thuen Design in Fargo, was recently named North Dakota State University's alumni of the year for 2009. His unique photography and paintings were on display for several weeks at the university's Reineke Fine Arts Center in Fargo.

While his work was on display Thuen talked to a student who couldn't believe that all of the artwork in the exhibit featured images and scenes of North Dakota. But Thuen reassured the student that all the images in his work were indeed from North Dakota landscapes.

One of Thuen's most popular prints, a black and white photo titled Life In The Vast Lane was taken in western North Dakota and is part of a series that was the brainchild of Spider Johnk of the Fargo-based Spider and Company marketing firm.

"I am the third generation to hunt on that rancher's land," Thuen said of the scene from the photo. "It is God's country. My heart knows every square inch of that land."

Thuen returns to the same place every year during hunting season and branding time to connect with his inner cowboy.

When he's not spending time with his wife, Lara, a physician with Innovis Health in Fargo, and the couple's two children, Thuen loves to roam the wilderness of the prairie landscape in search of dramatic images.

"I have always loved western North Dakota and I have a deep appreciation for the beauty there," he said.

Growing up as the only child of Gary and Shirley Thuen, he was always encouraged to pursue his artistic dreams.

Thuen's father, Gary, has become a craftsman in his own right and now makes many of the frames that display Thuen's work. From grade school through college, Thuen's artistic talents were woven together with paint brushes and camera lenses.

"I have been doing a lot more photography recently and I miss painting,"

Thuen said. "I hope to be able to do more of that in the future."

Thuen's south Fargo home is filled with his colors and black and white images. His business, Thuen Design, is another outlet for his creative energy.

His artwork has also caught the eye of some famous rock stars.

The Fargodome asked Thuen to design posters for rockers Bon Jovi and AC/DC when their tours stopped in Fargo recently. Both groups were so impressed with his artwork that they are interested in having Thuen do more work for them.

"You just never know about things like that," he said softly with a grin.

Most of Thuen's time is spent working and spending time with his family.

Haley, 4, and Sam, 18 months, keep Thuen and his wife busy and fill their world with light and laughter.

"We are so fortunate," Thuen says. "We are very happy to have moved back to Fargo. So many of our friends are also back now."

Thuen and his wife, Lara, who grew up in Fargo, lived and worked in Minneapolis for a time after they were first married. But their heart was always rooted in North Dakota.

"We knew we wanted to come home," he said. "I couldn't stand it there anymore - we never saw a sunset. It just sort of disappeared. We had to come home - everyone eventually wants to come home to Fargo."

Despite his busy life, Thuen always takes time to appreciate the blessings of his life.

"I would never be able to do what I am doing today if it weren't for Lara," he said. "We really work well together as a family and as a team."

When he raises a camera to his eyes, Scott Thuen may look out over the same world we all see. But the images he creates transports us to another place, a beautiful world we all like to visit.