Trent Davis Bailey
Where did you grow up?
I grew up about thirty miles southwest of Denver, Colorado, in a suburban neighborhood that looks west towards the Rocky Mountains.
When did you realize you wanted to pursue art making as a career?
I started pursuing photography jobs while I was in college. I interned at a large advertising agency and with an editorial and commercial photographer. I also spent two summers in New York City working at the International Center of Photography. Together, those three jobs exposed me to all kinds of photographic production. I think it was important for me to learn that certain types of photography, such as photographing on a light table, completely disinterested me. It was too controlled, too immobile. I much preferred to be out in the world making pictures. I found I liked the pace as well as the unpredictability and elusiveness of photographing this way—allowing my pictures to gradually reveal the direction of my work. I sought a lyricism in the work I was making, and once I felt that impulse I knew there was nothing else I would rather do.
How did you find out about Anderson Ranch Arts Center?
I exhibited work in a group exhibition at the Patton-Malott Gallery (at Anderson Ranch) in 2009. Later that spring, I received a scholarship from the Ranch to participate in a summer workshop taught by photographers Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb. The following year I worked at the Ranch as an intern in Photography and New Media. Now, nearly six years later, I’m back here as an Artist-in-Residence.
What are you working on during your residency?
I am continuing my long-term body of work, The North Fork. I have mostly been in the studio sifting through boxes of negatives, scanning film, making prints, and arranging my pictures in consideration of an exhibition. Eventually, I would also like to make a book of the work.
How would you describe your artistic practice?
I work primarily with photography. Overall, I’m interested in the elasticity of how we comprehend photographs, and how a series of photographs can both reveal a way of seeing and appeal to the imagination.
What role does art play in your life?
I like to think my work guides me more than I guide it.
How do you spend your time when not working in the studio?
I recently spent time as a farmhand, planting and harvesting on some small farms in western Colorado. Since I didn’t grow up with much of a garden, I was late to discover the pleasure of growing and cooking my own food. It’s something I hope more Americans can experience.
Where are you going next?
I am going back home to California, where I’ve been living since 2013. I also have plans this summer to continue to photograph in western Colorado, and I am going to embark on a new project in Iowa. Similar to my project, The North Fork, this new project will be an exploration of place and my family history. This time, however, the chosen place is flat not mountainous, it is more urban than rural, and there is big agriculture there as opposed to small family farms. I’m uncertain where this work will lead me, and that’s what excites me most.