Louisiana Trail Riders
by Jeremiah Ariaz
“African American Trail Riding Clubs have their roots in the Creole culture formed in South Louisiana in the 18th century. Today trail rides are an opportunity for generations of people to gather, celebrate, and ride horseback. The riders form a distinctive yet little-known sub-culture in Southwest Louisiana.
"In 2014 while riding my motorcycle in rural Louisiana, I encountered a large group of people riding horseback. They commanded the road, and I pulled over for them to pass. I retrieved my camera from the saddlebag of my bike and took a few photographs as they rode by. A gentleman near the end of the procession waved, encouraging me to join. So began my ride as witness to the trail-riding clubs.
“I’m drawn to the multi-generational gatherings, the mix of rural and urban sensibilities, and the zydeco music that provides an-ongoing soundtrack to the weekends. Since 2014 I’ve been photographing weekend trail rides across South Louisiana. In addition to sharing an important aspect of Louisiana’s cultural heritage, the photographs assert a counter-narrative to historic representations of the cowboy and prevailing images of difference and despair in Black America. I embarked on this project at the time of the 50th anniversary of many of the achievements of the Civil-Rights era, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, yet still there is an alarming lack of positive representations of African-Americans in the media. In the wake of the Trayvon Martin killing, violence and indifference to the value of young black lives has been brought to the national spotlight in incidents across the country, from Ferguson, MO to my home in Baton Rouge, LA following the tragic death of Alton Sterling in 2016. In the context of this national backdrop, my photographs depict joy, pride, and familial intimacy, particularly between fathers and sons who are taught to care for and ride horses from an early age.”--Jeremiah Ariaz
About the author: Jeremiah Ariaz creates works that explore both the geography and ideology of the American West. He received his BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and MFA from the State University of New York at Buffalo.
Ariaz has exhibited and been invited to speak about his photography internationally. His projects include Staging the West, Tucumcari, Reconsidering Landscape, Shadow Root: Retracing the Santa Fe Trail, Fact and Fiction: Imaging the West, and Louisiana Trail Riders.
Louisiana Trail Riders is his first project set in his adopted southern home of Louisiana, where he is an Associate Professor of Art at Louisiana State University.
Projected publication date: June 2018. Pre-order your copy now.
Softcover, 152 pp., ©2018