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Press Release

Nailya Alexander Gallery is pleased to present Jane Hilton: Dead Eagle Trail, the artist’s most recent project (2006-2010) about American cowboys and their way of life in the twenty-first century. This will be Jane Hilton’s first solo exhibition in New York, featuring twenty color photographs, all taken by a 4 x 5 inch camera. The exhibition will run from May 26 through July 8, 2011 at 41 E 57th Street, Suite 704. Gallery hours are 11am-6pm, Tuesday through Saturday. The opening reception for the artist and book signing will be held on May 25th from 6 to 8pm.

Jane Hilton (b. 1965), a London-based photographer and filmmaker, has been captivated by a cowboy lifestyle since her childhood in suburban England, when she watched Westerns on the television. An opportunity to work on various projects in the US for the last two decades ignited her passion to explore American culture. On one of her assignments she learned about a seventeen-year-old cowboy, Jeremiah Kirsten, who traveled from his native Alaska to Mexico on horseback for two years, earning a living by breaking wild horses or by taking stints on ranches. Jeremiah’s journey inspired Hilton to learn more about one of the most romantic American archetypes, the spirit of a cowboy and his life in immense spaces of natural beauty. 

Both the book and the exhibition are entitled Dead Eagle Trail in reference to Hilton’s discovery of a dead Golden Eagle on the road in Nevada in 2006. This sacred bird for Native Americans became an omen of her journey. Hilton traveled through Nevada, Colorado, Arizona, Texas, Wyoming, Utah, and New Mexico, documenting and witnessing both older and younger generation of cowboys against a backdrop of decline, as ranches have been gradually succumbing to developers or disappearing. Hilton chose not to portray cowboys in the traditional way, on horseback, but rather in their homes (sometimes even bedrooms), surrounded by their collections of artifacts and memorabilia. Hilton’s cowboys, dignified and strong, cherish their legacy and freedom. Her portrait of Pate Meinzer, cowboy from Benjamin, Texas received a Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize and was displayed at the National Portrait Gallery in London (November, 2010 – February, 2011).

Among Hilton’s previous photography projects are God Bless America (1994-2002), All Lit Up (1999-2000), The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (2007), and Silent Order (2007). She made Love for Sale, a series of ten documentaries on legalized prostitution in Nevada for the BBC. In the artist’s words her work in America “has had an underlying theme about the American Dream and the different aspects of American culture geared towards it. Whether documenting deer hunters, people getting married in Las Vegas and the wedding culture, or legalized brothels. It’s all about what these people aspire to and the fact that they promote the idea that, ‘you can do anything in life’.” Hilton’s photographs are regularly published in The Sunday Times Magazine and The Telegraph Magazine