Luke Gilford’s ‘National Anthem’ is the result of years of documenting the unique subculture within the International Gay Rodeo Association – the organizing body for the LGBTQ+ cowboy and cowgirl communities in North America.
Gilford’s father was a member of The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association so he spent his youth around the rodeo, but it wasn’t until he discovered the IGRA that he was able to see himself as part of that community. His National Anthem work aims to recognize and bring to light thriving queer communities in rural areas around the United States, and the deep kinship therein.
Printed at a scale that is larger-than-life, the characters in National Anthem demand to be confronted, and in doing so, refuse the invisibility that neglect and dismissal too often cast upon them. In spending time with the members of the IGRA and their neighbors, Gilford found himself comforted by the unexpected open-mindedness he witnessed, which he has described as “the electric charge of belonging”. Through this exhibition, Gilford hopes to connect with members of the LGBTQIA+ community that have left their hometowns in search of a more welcoming environment, and build upon the communal love and care that is so evident in the city.
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