This body of work is inspired by the book We Sagebrush Folks, a memoir written by Annie Pike Greenwood, detailing her time spent in an early Southern Idaho farming community from 1906-1928. The Greenwoods, along with other families, migrated to Idaho because of the allure of the Carey Act of 1894, a land grant program to encourage settlement of federally owned arid lands, with the aid of irrigation.  The Carey Act thrived on promotional propaganda, suggesting that fields of sagebrush could magically be transformed into irrigated Edens; it was a farmer’s gold rush—enticing dreamers to move to wilderness regions.  Greenwood’s book explores these dreams of cultivation, the hope of prosperity, and the difficult reality of trying to harness a landscape to suit the needs of the farmer. The book is an eclectic personal journey, calling on Greenwood's experiences as a mother, wife, and educator. To illustrate this journey, I have combined my photographs with text taken directly from her book. I want the viewer to be able to read Greenwood’s prose to better understand her influence on the work. I consider this a collaboration between two authors, Annie Pike Greenwood and myself.

The imagery acts as a verse of bittersweet optimism, exploring the culmination  between the conventional and the sublime. Annie Pike Greenwood formed an acceptance of how the two balanced one another in this paradox of a place she considered to be the last frontier. She writes in her final chapter, “It was not right that we should fail, Charley and I, and yet it was right. It was not our just reward, but it was our best reward. There is a saying among the sagebrush farmers that the first settlers clear and plow the land for those who are to own it.” One hundred years later, I've been retracing her steps, creating a photographic survey of the Snake River Plain where We Sagebrush Folks are still trying to turn the desert into the promised land. 

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© M. Alexis Pike, 2011