Artist Statement Submitted 2019Delta Hill Riders
Historians agree that just after the Civil War, one in four cowboys were African American. Yet this population was drastically underrepresented in popular accounts, and it is still. The “cowboy” identity retains a strong presence in many black communities.
This ongoing documentary project in the Mississippi Delta sheds light on an overlooked African American subculture — one that resists historical and contemporary stereotypes.
The project began January 2017 when I attended a black heritage rodeo in Greenville, Mississippi.
The body of work reveals how deep and diverse this community is. I’ve been invited to black heritage rodeos, horse shows, trail rides, “Cowboy Nights” at black nightclubs across the Delta, and to subjects’ homes across the region.
The project aims to press against my own old archetypes — who could and could not be a cowboy, and what it means to be black in Mississippi — while uplifting the voices of my subjects.