THEY’RE FAST, ELEGANT, SENSITIVE, AND STRONG, with wild manes and tails that touch the grass. At times they seem otherworldly, mythological, like the four-legged inhabitants of fairy tales. Yet here they stand, living among us, helping with the most practical of endeavors while offering emotional sustenance, too. Many people have yearned to possess one. For those whose yearning remains unfulfilled, a question circles the arena of the mind at a steady lope: How do you capture a horse? For this trio of artists the answer is: with a camera.
“The barn was my second home as a child, all the way through my teenage years,” recalls Louise Johns, a Bozeman, Montana-based photographer who inherited a love of horses from her mother. “Given my personal experience growing up with horses, I’m interested in the ways that other women have been shaped by them.”
Rooted in contemporary realities and in the West, Johns’ images of women and horses have a strong specificity with regard to time and place. They depict a symbiotic relationship that began in Central Asia nearly 3,000 years ago and is still very much alive in this region. “Here, horses are integral to the lives of people who live and work on the land,” says Johns, who grew up in Virginia. Back East, she recalls, “I was used to horses being monitored closely, living in stalls, and restricted to small pastures. There is an element of freedom with the horses in the West, living in these large, vast landscapes.”
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