‘Thirst for Grit’ – Box of Prints and Artifacts by Lance Rosenfield
This collectors prototype box of pigment prints on fiber paper and artifacts is available for purchase. Contact Lance Rosenfield for inquiries.
We live in the age of digital media which often leaves works as forgotten zeros and ones, and I believe some projects deserve better than that. With this box of prints and artifacts I aim to pay homage to my project ‘Thirst for Grit’ with a lasting tactile and visual experience.
C O L O P H O N
This prototype box of pigment prints on fiber paper and artifacts accompanies the solo show of ‘Thirst for Grit’ by Lance Rosenfield at L. Nowlin Gallery in Austin, Texas during July, 2010. A limit of four additional boxes may be created.
Photography, prints, statement, and project direction by Lance Rosenfield of Austin, Texas.
Box craftsmanship by Jace Graf and Eric Sederholm of Cloverleaf Studio in Austin, Texas. The inlay on the front of the box is a cut-out from the left boot that Jimmy “Stretch” Borunda of San Antonio, Texas wore during the course of the project.
Installation and design of artifacts by Abi Daniel of Austin, Texas. The artifacts were donated by Jimmy “Stretch” Borunda, David Gonzales, and Jeffrey Miller.
Letterpress printing by Bradley Hutchinson of Austin, Texas.
Typesetting by Meggan Webber of Austin, Texas using Clarendon font.
Inset text by Roy Flukinger, Senior Curator of Photography at the Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin.
S T A T E M E N T
Tense and determined, his jaw clenched tight and his hand bound once again to a beast with the power to quickly end his life, he slides up and nods his head, primed for a violent ride to test his mettle and deliver a show to an oft-scarce crowd on the outskirts of a small Texas town. He is a rodeo cowboy, and his gritty fortitude first interested me in exploring who he is, where he comes from, and what keeps him coming back. The rodeo cowboy has been a folk hero of the American West for over a century; he has been romanticized in books, poems and movies and has captured the imagination of generations in the United States and beyond.
With this project, ‘Thirst for Grit’ I offer a fresh vignette into the community of modern-day, small-town rodeo cowboys in Texas. Since 2007 I have followed the semi-itinerant ways of these men who live a life of legend and little else. They share a bond with one another that centers on respect, loyalty and toughness. While mostly well-mannered, rodeo cowboys can also be as wild and rough as the beasts they ride, and sometimes skate the edge of social rule when it comes to the bottle and women.
The rodeo is a time for these men to let loose from a hard week of labor as construction and oil-field workers, and the daily grind of their lives; to hit the open road with fellow rodeo cowboys and girlfriends; to test their strength, skill and toughness, and to compete for prize money and bragging rights. Some of these men are addicted to rodeo even into their mid-life. As 44-year old bronc rider Jeffrey Miller of San Antonio, Texas says, “My greatest fear right now in life other than not making it to Heaven is having to retire from rodeo.”
Rodeo cowboys uphold this Texas institution amidst an ever-homogenized modern world often less forgiving of cultural traditions. They ride nearly every weekend and put their bodies and heartbeats on the line because this is their identity, they can live no other way.
At the beginning of this project in 2007 I befriended then 30-year old bull-rider Jimmy “Stretch” Borunda. The mutual respect we have for each other and the trust and friendship that has formed has been my key to the door to his community. It is through my interpretation of Stretch’s world that I share ‘Thirst for Grit’. In the spring of 2009 Stretch was hurt badly and lost sight in his left eye. I have continued to document his return to the rodeo arena and will follow his quest to return to competition. His determination to return to rodeo embodies the spirit that caught my interest in these men in the first place.
— Lance Rosenfield
Thirst for Grit should never be dismissed as merely another pass at photographing the rodeo cowboy, for Lance Rosenfield’s imagery of this great American icon is refreshingly original. It may grow out of the documentary tradition but it vibrates with a wholly modernist style that I have not seen since Rick Williams rode with the cattlemen of Albany, Texas, a couple of decades back. Lance’s unique perception flows elegantly between the poetic and the abstract, encompassing nearly every aspect of the lifestyle, customs and conventions of today’s rodeo cowboy. His chronicle of faces, events and environments presents us with a fresh aesthetic that is passionate, sly and deeply humane — hinting simultaneously at both the strong perseverance and the fierce seductiveness of a culture that will thankfully continue into this new century. Rosenfield may be riding the same trails and driving the same blacktops that Jay Dusard and Bank Langmore did so very beautifully, but his vision is blessed with a level of creativity that is singularly his own.
— Roy Flukinger
A C K N O W L E D G E M E N T S
I would like to give special thanks to my friends Jimmy ‘Stretch’ Borunda, David Gonzales, and Jeffrey Miller for opening their world beyond the rodeo arena to me and my camera.
The support, encouragement, and collaborations with the following people have been immeasurably helpful and meaningful. I thank you:
The many important friends and brilliant colleagues in Austin and around the world, David Alan Harvey, Gina Martin, Bob Black, Sue Ann Horan, Neil Randall, Dave Keenan, Roy Flukinger, Lesley Nowlin, Jace Graf and Cloverleaf Studio, Abi Daniel, and my parents Marty and Ron Rosenfield.