The Museum of Friends, a contemporary art museum in Walsenburg, invited me to be artist in residence as part of their ‘Where’s Walsenburg’ community programme. Walsenburg is a historic mining and ranching town in Huerfano County, Colorado. I started by setting up a free portrait studio in one of the galleries of MOF and photographed and interviewed a wide range of residents. I went on to make images on location to build up a portrait of the town and county. Text taken from interviews during the process was part of the culminating exhibition.
This work is about the much-deliberated American journey, the search for a better life and people’s connection with the land. It was made during an artist residency at the Museum of Friends in Southern Colorado, where there has been a constant flux of migration since the first settlers. Pioneers headed west during the Gold Rush, eventually setting up homesteads and ranches; later people were brought from all over the world to work in the coalmines. The counterculture children of the 1960s were attracted by the beauty and isolation of the San Luis valley and founded the hippy communes. One commune still survives and many people from now defunct communities stayed in the area, giving an otherwise conservative county an alternative vibe. Despite the downturn in fortunes the people who remain are steadfast in their love for the land, still determined to reject the system and cling to the once promised freedom of the wild west.