Deseret Industria is a deep dive into the conversation on land use in Utah. A 1,500 mile bicycle trip around Utah helped me see Utah’s nooks and crannies at a digestible speed. The end result is a series of 35mm Silver Gelatin prints and a short film about the trip.
The territory of Deseret is known for prosperity, grit, and faith of the settlers who arrived here in 1847. As a descendent of these settlers, my whole childhood I knew Mormons as the ones who ‘conquered’ this land against all odds. I had heard about the nutty environmentalists, but had no understanding of the things they made such a big deal about. I had heard about the indigenous people, but had no idea their cultures were so alive and strong to this day. I had seen tourists at the national parks and monuments, but not in nearly the quantity we’ve all seen in the last decade.
Utah’s heritage is founded in industry, it’s even our state slogan. We’ve got everything from industrial farms to power plants, even an open pit mine that can be seen from space. These extraction facilities are scattered amongst a vast land of natural wonders, beloved by millions of explorers from Kanab to Korea. The traditional industries are in head-to-head battle with indigenous, conservation and tourism groups for a say in how we manage the natural land left in our state. With more hands in the pot than ever, the divide between industry and conservation has become a major issue in our economy, politics, and day-to-day lives.
In an attempt to connect the divide between conservation and industry, I spent 6 weeks on my bike travelling among national monuments, coal mines, and everything in-between. Over 1,500 miles, I met many people, and asked what they thought it meant to truly “live off of the land”. I heard many different visions of ideal land management, explored some of the most unique geology in the world, and had quite a bit of time to find out where I stand in this vast cultural divide. The final product of the trip is a collection of silver-gelatin prints and a short film; an honest attempt to start conversation which reduces the divide and inspires solution.