Trent Davis Bailey's series The North Fork is a photographic narrative derived from the artist's experience of an agricultural valley in western Colorado. Bailey, a Colorado native himself, was drawn to and inspired by the vastness of his home state, its rich agrarian history, and the assorted characters who inhabit the high plains. While living for a period of time in New York City, Bailey developed a yearning for the mountainous landscape he explored as a child, which initially served as a catalyst for this complex body of work. Bailey's work is driven as much by storytelling as by the artist's vested self-interest in his family's history, presenting us with a sense of kinship, community, and wonder in a land of unrelenting beauty.
As Bailey describes, "The North Fork is a place in my imagination. It is also a valley in my home state of Colorado. It is a land of mesas and plains sheltered by deep wilderness, precipitous canyons, sloping forests, and ragged peaks. When I was seven years old, my dad brought me to the North Fork for the first time. My dad's older brother lived there with his wife and their seven kids. Their home was a large rectangular army tent assembled at the base of a mountain. Their backyard had three ponds and a garden where they grew their own food, and beyond that, a dense forest of juniper trees where I imagined coyotes, black bears, and mountain lions lurked.
"Almost 20 years later, I returned to the North Fork. I have since used photography to piece together a map of my experience of this valley's landscape and inhabitants - as well as my own emotionally complicated terrain of memory and family. Today, this valley contains the highest concentration of organic farms in the state of Colorado, and it is also home to ranches, vineyards, coalmines and a training facility for renewable energy and sustainable building. With my ongoing project, "The North Fork," I make photographs that answer to my personal longings and childhood recollections, and pose questions about what kind of life is possible in this rural American valley."
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Bailey received his MFA at the California College of the Arts, and received his BFA in Photography and BA in Art History from the University of Colorado at Boulder. The Museum of Contemporary Photography (MoCP) at Columbia College Chicago recently awarded Trent Davis Bailey the 2015 Snider Prize.