“Midwest Cowboy” by Photographer Brian Kaiser

A modern deconstruction and reimagining of the American cowboy archetype by photographer Brian Kaiser. Based in Columbus, Ohio, Kaiser sees the unique character of the cowboy as occupying a space between myth and reality. The figure has become symbolic, conveying patriotic themes like rugged individualism, honour, strength, and resilience. And yet, while the idea of this iconic folk hero has endured, it has rarely been examined. As Kaiser states:

“The ways cowboys have been depicted in popular culture, and who has been excluded from those depictions is directly linked to the inaccurate stories America tells itself about race, gender, exceptionalism, expansion, and destiny. A growing body of literature and images have sought to expand and challenge these incomplete depictions, to correct the record and broaden the definition. This body of work looks to do the same.”

Kaiser focuses on a diverse group of rodeos, from black rodeos in the farmlands south of Chicago and gay rodeos that pay tribute to victims of the AIDS epidemic, to a Mexican jaripeo on the outskirts of Columbus, Ohio, each event pays homage to the history of the sport while elevating the values that are important to their cultures and communities. Within this context, Kaiser demonstrates not just how enduring the archetype is, but how malleable and inclusive it can be. Check out more images from “Midwest Cowboy” below!

















































Brian Kaiser’s Website

Brian Kaiser on Instagram

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