Rory Doyle is a working photographer based in Cleveland, Mississippi. Doyle is a 2019 Mississippi Visual Artist Fellow through the Mississippi Arts Commission and National Endowment for the Arts for his ongoing project on African American cowboys and cowgirls, “Delta Hill Riders,” for which he won the 16th Annual Smithsonian Photo Contest. The work was featured in the Half King Photo Series in New York and The Print Space Gallery in London. Additionally, Doyle was awarded a South Arts State Fellowship representing Mississippi in 2019. He was also recognized for the project by winning the 2019 Zeiss Photography Award, and the photojournalism category at the 2018 Eye Em Awards in Berlin, Germany.
For decades, the cowboy has occupied a storied place in Americana—but the image in popular narratives excluded cowboys of color. This year the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering and Grammy-winning musician Dom Flemons sought to change that. At the event, held in Nevada earlier this winter, the theme was the same as Flemons's 2018 album: black cowboys.