Cowboys are cool again, and creatives of color are leading the charge. From fashion to photography, art to music, “the black yeehaw agenda” is having a moment. This reached its peak with the release of Solange’s When I Get Home, steeped in the cowboy aesthetics of her hometown, Houston, Texas.
People of color played a big part in cowboy culture; in the mid-19th Century, one in four cowboys was black. But culturally this heritage has been forgotten, or ignored. But no longer.
Speaking in Texas at the launch of her album, Solange told journalists, “I don’t know John Wayne. I don’t know his story. I really don’t...We’ve had to rewrite what Black History means for us since the beginning of time.”
British/Nigerian photographer Nadine Ijewere was also fascinated by the idea of redefining what cowboy culture looks like. “My work is very much about celebrating different types of beauty and identity,” she says. “I always want to give a new perspective.”
Shot on location with the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo in California, Nadine’s portraits “break down the stereotypes of what a cowgirl can actually be.”
The project had its challenges, especially when it came to shooting the horses. “They are beautiful, majestic creatures and the relationship between them and their owners was magical,” she says. “But they were also terrified of the backdrops so that made it a little difficult.”
It was certainly worth it in the end. “It’s such a strong, beautiful culture. We felt so at home and invited into these women’s lives.”
Styling by Sarah Toshiko West.