Cowboys of Color Artist Statement

I’m not black. I’m not a cowboy.

These photographs are of real people. They have real lives with real joys and sorrows.

The intent of this portfolio is to make visible the modern black cowboy.

It is today’s history  and shows the continuation of this black rodeo and ranching tradition into our time.

Few people realize that there is a black cowboy culture and history.

The formal portraits taken at the Cowboys of Color Rodeos give us a window into their lives and personalities while they are pursuing their passion of the cowboy and ranching lifestyle.

As with any good portrait, some small piece of their personality and life must be revealed to be evocative and authentic.

These images were made during live rodeos, behind the bull chutes, initially by a complete stranger who had only a few minutes to engage and disarm them to reveal that small piece.

It has been a pleasure and honor to have been invited into this environment to photograph so freely. Many thanks to everyone that has helped and supported my efforts especially Mr. Cleo Hearn.

Don Russell