When Jeremiah Ariaz came to Baton Rouge from his home state of Kansas in 2006, he saw it as an opportunity to explore more about the South.
“It was the geographic area of our country that I felt I knew the least about and that which I had visited the least,” he says. “It was the newest to me, and it continues to be new and surprising in many ways.”
Ariaz is a photographer and professor of art at LSU who has been using his talents behind the camera to comment on the state of the world. He also joined Baton Rouge Gallery as one of its newest artist members last year.
One of his projects, “Louisiana Trail Riders,” explores the Creole trail riding clubs in southwest Louisiana. The multigenerational gatherings on horseback include the Crescent City Cowboys, Desperados, Buffalo Soldiers and The Stepping In Style Riding Club.
This represents what my first experience with the riding clubs was like when I first encountered them as they commanded a two-lane country road. The image conveys power and is evidence of the equestrian Creole traditions that have been passed down through the generations … The translation of that world into a black and white image can abstract and create a degree of distance between the viewer and the subject. I appreciate the way black and white seems to suspend time. I wanted to include details that place it within our contemporary experience, such as the cell phone being used by the rider on the left and the Apple earbuds visible on Homer in the center of the frame.
[Ariaz about the photograph “Homer and Riders”]
His thoughtful work shows his love for photography, and he is most grateful for what opportunities the career brings him.
“Photography gets me out into the world, and that enables me to have experiences that I wouldn’t otherwise have,” Ariaz says.
His passion for photography and education led him to teaching at LSU, where he says he hopes to try to inspire young photographers in their own pursuits.
As for his next project, he says it has to do with the role of small-town newspapers and how they contribute to a healthy democracy. Ariaz has captured images of many small-town newspaper offices and plans to let this idea lead him toward a bigger photography series.