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American Cowgirl

Jamie Williams’ Art Depicts the Western Lifestyle

Part 1 of 4

By Lorraine A. DarConte

"People call me when they need shots of ranches or cowboys," states Jamie Williams. Williams grew up in Lubbock, TX, where she spent time on farms and ranches. About nine years ago, she began working on a documentary film and book project entitled American Cowgirl. "I plan to travel to all fifty states to produce images for the book," explains Williams, who hopes to showcase every genre of the western cowgirl lifestyle, including rodeo queens, trick riders, horse whispers, and others.

Williams received an artist grant for her project from the Arizona Commission on the Arts. She chose to photograph cowgirls for several reasons, one being that the American cowboy is well documented, but not the cowgirl, in her opinion. "I think the cowgirl is overlooked somewhat and hasn’t had her due recognition. The cowgirl worked right alongside the cowboy herding and branding the cattle and harvesting the crops. If you look in the history books, you see a lot about cowboys, but not as much about cowgirls, both of which are a dying breed," explains Williams.

One famous cowgirl featured in Williams’ project is Dale Evans—Roy Rogers’ wife and partner. "I was lucky enough to get Evans’ last interview and photo session. Even though she was quite ill her daughter allowed me to keep calling to set up an interview and photo shoot. I called every Monday for six months until she finally said ‘Mom’s up for it if you want to come out.’ I was on a plane to CA two days later. Even though Evans was in a wheelchair, she was dressed in a Western outfit portraying a living icon just like in the movies."

Recently, images from Williams’ American Cowgirl project were featured at ArtsEye Gallery in Tucson, AZ. Film Creations, a video crew, covered the gallery opening and created a two and a half minute piece that aired nationwide on the Encore Western Channel. The result was more than 100,000 hits to Williams’ Web site.

For the exhibit, a variety of photographs were printed at Photographic Works—the lab also runs the gallery. The images needed to be consistent in their look, even though some were shot on film and others with a digital camera. Prints for Williams’ show were 20x30 inches and smaller, printed on Canson Infinity’s Arches Smooth paper. Bill Snyder, imaging manager, Photographic Works, printed Williams’ exhibition images in B&W on a d’Vinci Hi-Fi JET Fine Art Printing System, purchased about three years ago.

"Part of the reason why no challenges arose during the printing of Williams’ work is because our printer is adequately calibrated and profiled," states Snyder. The d’Vinci printer is actually a combination of parts that includes a Roland DGA Corporation Hi-Fi JET Pro II FJ-540 printer with Epson printheads. "The d’Vinci integrates ErgoSoft StudioPrint RIP, which really makes the difference. Without the ErgoSoft, Epson, and Roland components, there is no d’Vinci," says Snyder.

Williams’ innovative perspective on the Western lifestyle is one of the many reasons why her large format prints are so influential.

To see more of Williams’ work visit www.ThatGirlProductions.com.

Next week, read about Stephen Austin Welch, a CA-based photographer using an Epson Stylus Pro 4000 to create art from mundane objects.

Dec2008, Digital Output

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