Home On The Range (2012-2014)
America, a country birthed on liberty and justice, was coddled and raised on folkloric legends. Its history is littered with fictional narratives that have become so second nature, they are often mistaken as fact. The characters of these legends are heroes, with the personality traits that modern day Americans strive to incorporate into their own lives.
One of these figures is the legendary Cowboy. Once a symbol of American growth and progress, the Cowboy is, to this day, the epitome of American masculinity. Throughout the history of the young nation, the Cowboy has taken and continues to take many forms. Once a real person, the character of the Cowboy was taken out of historical context and blown up to become a larger than life figure. He has the abilities of a super hero, but the heart of a working stiff. He is connected to the earth and the environment. He is the man who is said to be able to take the most intense beating but will only wince when his wounds are seen to by a gentle woman. He answers to no one. He is his own man.
Once a man on a horse roaming the deserts of the American Wild West, the Cowboy can be seen as the contemporary political figure; a politician who metaphorically shoots first and asks questions later. He can be seen as the leader of a biker gang, a cowboy in leather who traded his horse for a Harley. He can be seen as the man many men are told they should become.
My recent collage work examines this image of masculinity through the image of the Cowboy. It asks the question of ownership and appropriation. The land the cowboys roamed was not their own. It was in a sense stolen from the Natives who originally called it home. In the many fights for justice, the sides of good and bad are not always clear-cut. My work combines the idea of the fictional Cowboy “hero” with the reality of the bloodied history that happened in his name.