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Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art

Jeremiah Ariaz: Louisiana Trail Riders

2019 Friends of the Beach Museum of Art Gift Print Artist
August 6 – December 9, 2019

The African-American trail riding clubs of Southwest Louisiana are part of a Creole culture that has its roots in the population of Frenchman, Native Americans, and free people of color who settled in the region during the 18th century. Today’s Louisiana trail riding clubs number in the dozens and bear distinctive names such as the “5 Star Fillies,” “Steady Steppin’ Riders,” and “Crazy Hat Riders.” Club members gather on weekends and move through parish communities and prairie grasslands, listening to Zydeco music from a sound system or live bands in tow. The trail rides are an opportunity for generations from rural parts of the state to gather and celebrate. Jeremiah Ariaz, a professor of art at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, has captured these equestrian clubs in a selection of photographs forming this exhibition.

Ariaz, who was raised in Great Bend, Kansas, first encountered one of the clubs in 2014 while riding his motorcycle. When he pulled over for the equestrians to pass, he retrieved his camera and took a few photographs. He was soon waved into the line, and, in the years that followed, Ariaz became a fixture among the clubs, parlaying his views of their gatherings into the 2018 book Louisiana Trail Riders.

Ariaz describes how time with the clubs has affected his understanding of American history: “I spent my childhood in Kansas and had a particular image of a cowboy shaped by popular culture. He was gruff, serious, white, and situated in the [modern] West. The trail riders in Louisiana are a stark contrast to most depictions of cowboys, offering a radically different vantage point to consider images of the West and acknowledging that black equestrian culture stems from a time when the American West was Louisiana Territory.”

Gavin (front) and Jock (rear) Saddle Horses, Ride or Die Club (Opelousas) from Jeremiah Ariaz: Louisiana Trail Riders has been chosen as the 2019 Friends of the Beach Museum of Art Gift Print. The Friends commission a limited-edition print by a recognized Kansas artist for sale to Friends and the public each year. For more information about supporting the museum as a Friend or purchasing a gift print, call 785-532-7718 or go to beach.k-state.edu.

Platinum Major Sponsor: Greater Manhattan Community Foundation’s Lincoln & Dorothy I. Deihl Community Grant Program | Gold Sponsor: Dan and Beth Bird 

Related Events

Art in Motion Western-Themed Kick-off Event
Saturday, September 28, 2019, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. 

Buffalo Soldiers (TNT TV Movie starring Danny Glover, 1997; 100 min.)
Film screening with comments from consultant and actor Barrie Tompkins, Nicodemus Buffalo Soldiers Association
Thursday, January 30, 2020, 5-7:30 p.m. 

At the Volland Store Gallery, thevollandstore.com
Jeremiah Ariaz: Louisiana Trail Riders (2018), book signing and talk by the photographer, and
“John Steuart Curry: The Cowboy Within,” talk by Curator Elizabeth Seaton
Saturday, November 16, 2019, 2 p.m.