Alexis Pike is a sixth generation Idahoan calling on the geography of her genes for inspiration. She currently lives in Bozeman, Montana and is an Assistant Professor at Montana State University. Pike received her BFA from Boise State University and her MFA from the University of Iowa. She has exhibited work at Blue Sky Gallery, been a Top 50 finalist for Critical Mass, one of five finalists for the Seattle Art Museum’s Betty Bowen Award, exhibited in the public art installation THE FENCE in both Brooklyn & Boston and published in Harper’s magazine. She is currently working on two new projects: one surveying government land use in the West and a second exploring the legend of Evel Knievel. A monograph of her previous work is available for purchase from Blue Sky Gallery in Portland, Oregon. Today we share Alexis’ series We Sagebrush Folks.
This work is inspired by the book We Sagebrush Folks, a memoir written by Annie Pike Greenwood, detailing her time spent in an Idaho farming community from 1906-1928. The Greenwoods migrated here 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. This act thrived on promotional propaganda, suggesting fields of sagebrush could magically be transformed into irrigated Edens; it was a farmer’s gold rush—enticing dreamers to move to wilderness regions.
My imagery acts as a verse of bittersweet optimism, exploring the culmination between the conventional and the sublime and how the two balance one another in this paradox of a place Annie considered to be the last frontier. 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.
To view more of Alexis’ work please visit her website.