Not long ago, photographer Rory Doyle ran across an article in Smithsonian magazine that estimated that after the Civil War, one in four cowboys were African-American. So why has this population been drastically underrepresented in popular accounts? To this day, the cowboy identity retains a strong presence in many contemporary black communities.
“Delta Hill Riders,” Doyle’s ongoing documentary photography project in the Mississippi Delta, sheds light on an overlooked African-American subculture — one that resists both historical and contemporary stereotypes.
Doyle began shooting “Delta Hill Riders” in January 2017 when he attended a rodeo in Greenville, Mississippi celebrating black cowboy heritage in the region. Since then, he’s documented this band of horse riders in a place not typically known for its cowboys.
The project challenges the Hollywood portrayal of cowboys only existing in the American West by depicting black cowboys and cowgirls living in the Delta.
“This work 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,” says Doyle.
Rory Doyle (USA, 1983) is a photographer based in Cleveland, Mississippi — the heart of the Mississippi Delta. Doyle’s editorial work highlights populations in the region that are often unnoticed or underserved. Along with his series about African-American Delta cowboys, he has also documented the growing Latino population in an area most known for its black and white history.
“Delta Hill Riders”
The Half King Photography Series
Opening Reception June 19, 2018 at 7pm
Tikhonova Wintner Fine Art
Through July 29, 2018
New World Cowboys
Old Ways of Life on a Mountain Ranch
Kristine Potter’s Manifest Challenges Masculine Ideals and the Mythology of the American West (for PDN subscribers; login required)