Bighorn Basin Documentary Project Comes to Arapaho Ranch

The Arapaho Ranch Field Station was honored to be among the many Wyoming institutions, businesses, and individuals who participated in the Bighorn Basin documentary project.

What is the Bighorn Basin documentary project?

The Bighorn Basin documentary project resulted from a Wyoming Arts Council ARPA grant, designed to allow individual artists to help their communities coming out of the COVID pandemic. 

Through the project, grant recipient Barrie Lynn Bryant taught people in the Bighorn Basin—which encompasses four Wyoming counties—the documentary skills and concepts needed to document their own communities. 

Documentary work at this level is personal and universal at the same time. Projects like these represent how the soul of a community comes to life through images from the people who know and live their subject. 

Not surprisingly, the project lit a beautiful fire, attracting more and more participants as time went on. This intensity and growth was not unlike that of the famed Ashcan School, which produced works portraying scenes of daily life in New York in the late 1900s. 

The project caught the attention of Carla Mowell, host of the “Wyoming My 307” podcast. She interviewed all the documentarians, whose recorded stories will be archived alongside their documentary photos in the Wyoming State Archive. Carla later had the opportunity to travel with Barrie to document Peruvian sheepherders in the Bighorn Basin, whose stories will also be archived alongside Barrie’s related documentary photos. 

All information collected through the Bighorn Basin documentary project will be archived by the Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office and the Northern Arapaho Tribal Historic Preservation Office. 

Since the project’s end, many of its participants have asked for more work in their local groups and interaction with other communities and documentarians in Wyoming.

the bighorn basin documentary project comes to arapaho ranch

In late October 2023, we were honored to host a pop-up exhibit of the Bighorn Basin documentary project’s photographs here at the Ranch. 

Most of the event’s 75 attendees drove several hours to be part of this special, one-day event. 

The exhibit showcased 50 beautiful photographs, taken by 12 different people from four Wyoming counties. 

Each photo was accompanied by a large QR code that, when scanned, would play a clip from the photographer’s interview on the “Wyoming My 307” podcast. It was truly amazing to see people’s faces light up, some even laughing, as they listened to the stories about the individual photos and the communities they documented.

Thank you to Barrie Lynn Bryant for bringing this exciting opportunity to the Field Station Mansion; to all of the documentary photographers who participated and shared their images and stories with us; and to Carla Mowell for her wonderful interviews, which animated the viewers.

Documentary students visit Arapaho Ranch

In addition to hosting the pop-up exhibit, we had the pleasure of hosting some of Barrie Lynn Bryant’s documentary students here at Arapaho Ranch. 

We ended up with an accomplished professional Archeologist specializing in rock art, now helping the Tribal Historic Preservation Office locate and document important pictographs and petroglyphs. 

The story continues

We’re excited to share that Barrie is helping us document the many new programs developing at the Arapaho Ranch Field Station. 

As part of this process, he’ll take portraits of Arapaho Cowboys—who worked on the Ranch as early as the 40s—during a story-sharing session about the great adventures and hard work of our ranch cowboys and cowgirls, past and present.

host your next event at arapaho ranch

(And no, it doesn’t have to be related to cowboys or art.) 

Event attendees often tell us how much they enjoy gathering at our mansion, where several organizations have hosted events in the last year—and we would love to host your gathering, too! 

For information about having an event at Arapaho Ranch, please click here to send us an email. We look forward to hearing from you!

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The mission of the Arapaho Ranch Field Station is to facilitate place-based learning through transformative experiences, as well as preserve the history and culture of the people and the place.