Photofusion Member | Zoe Childerley

The Land of Milk and Honey

This body of work is about the much deliberated American journey, the search for a better life and people’s connection with the land. It was made during an artist residency at the Museum of Friends in Southern Colorado, where the Huajatollas (breasts of the earth) twin peaks dominate the skyline. They have long been sacred to the Native Americans and held myths of promised lands. This project builds a portrait of a region that has attracted many groups over the years looking for a new beginning. There has been a constant flux of migration since the pioneers headed west seeking their fortune during the Gold Rush.

In the 60’s several artist and hippy communes of were founded in the rural part of the county. The counterculture children were attracted by the unspoiled beauty and isolation of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and San Luis valley. One community, Libre, still survives and many people from now defunct communities stayed in the area, giving an otherwise conservative county an alternative vibe. It is now the most aging county in the State and has one of the rates of unemployment. Despite the downturn in fortunes the people who remain are steadfast in their love for their land and still hopeful about its future.

My 3 month residence living in the heart of county gave me access to some amazing characters from Native American Tomas who founded the most recent community to Brother Paul, an ex-carnie and Libertarian who lives off the grid. I was there during an election year where I found people more disillusioned than ever with the status quo, with both the more-radical-than-thou left and the über-libertarian right determined to reject the system and cling on to the once promised freedom of the wild west.

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