For two Saturdays every month, boys gather at the Madison County Rodeo in Marshall, NC. They put on chaps, rub resin into their gloves, spit tobacco, and step awkwardly into an image of themselves they can't quite yet ﬁll. It's a concept of maleness we can all imagine, and one that is on display all around the rodeo. Fully bearded men with their shirtsleeves rolled up, lips bulging with dip, and faces set in emotionless half-scowls pace around, each fully realized as the modern cowboy.
These boys, too, attempt to present themselves as strong, stoic, indiﬀerent, masculine and unafraid. In these images, however, their tenderness, self-doubt, desire for belonging, and imprecise mastery of masculinity all still come through. By capturing boys still searching for their identity as young men in the hyper-masculine culture of American rodeo, this project seeks to explore how masculinity is constructed and performed during a time when boys still present the innocence and uncertainty maleness so explicitly rejects.