While many beautiful images of the American West exist in contemporary photography, I have encountered few that include working women. These women are often rendered invisible by popular culture; where images of cowgirls do exist, they are often hyper-sexualized. The images I created last summer were an attempt to begin changing the existing narrative about women in the West.
I began to wonder: can photography help to show the contributions of women to the stewardship of ranch land? Can we shine a light on the women who work in what is largely seen to outsiders as an all-male space? Having spent a year of my twenties as a construction worker, I have a personal interest in lifting up the work done by women in industries typically dominated by men.
In 2017 I had the incredible fortune to be hosted by the Taft-Nicholson Center as an artist-in-residence. For four weeks I focused on building relationships with, and creating images of, women who work on the range. Through these images I hope to convey the strength and beauty of their character, as well as that of the land they steward.
Having a whole month with no responsibilities other than my artwork was one of the greatest luxuries of my life. I am incredibly grateful to the Center for all of the support they provided, and to all of the women who participated in this project. I hope to continue it well into the future.
See more of Maureen's work at her website: www.maureenwhitephotography.com