Mormon Trail

Aubrey Trinnaman

2015 - Ongoing

Mormon Trail

I was born into a family of 8 kids, in A Small Place, Utah, on a day that I would later be told by many in my church marks Jesus's birthday. This is the Mormon version of his birthday, in the Spring. 

In the Summers, I go home to the place I grew calluses on my knees from praying ~ 

I document my place as a way to see it again and re-tell it.

'Mormon Trail' / ‘Mormon Trial’ is one facet of a wide, slow, and patient document about my history and its landscape in every way one can wring meaning out of that word. 

The Desert

has a way of exposing all elemental truths with a light that lends as much shadow as it does illumination. Its sincere in it’s exposure, though I also see it as a mystic trickster’s playground. 

It embodies a powerful relativity like none other I know~ the peaches and pinks that a desert sunset presents serve as a mirror to its previously muted layers of sediment.

I have been photographing Mormons in the desert for the past three summers as they pay homage to their ancestor's pilgrimage from the midwest to the Great Salt Lake Valley, Utah.

Many of the Mormon pioneers from overseas lacked funds for full oxen and horse teams or covered wagons, therefore they made their pilgrimage to Utah by way of handcart. Ten different companies over the next 4 years trekked west. Two of the companies departed behind schedule in the spring and were met with devastating weather in central Wyoming and nearly a third of them died that winter. The handcart companies have become a salient theme in Mormon history and an emblem of the church’s dedication, grit, and faith.

When I was 33, my brother in law showed me a tiny 2inch digital photograph. It was a desert scene in Wyoming. A sort of tableau with multiple people in pioneer garb surrounding a gleaming~white 100ft fabricated temple. There happened to be a double rainbow on the horizon.

I remembered the recitation of the ‘Trek’ that my church group went on when I was a teen and hearing about Laurel Thompson wailing as they reenacted the burial of their dead infants.

I was ‘too cool’ for the Trek when I was 14.

I believe I see a more dynamic ritual now.

These documents continue to reveal much to me ~ particularly around what it means to be a woman in the Mormon Church that I was once a part of.

These days Im thinking a lot about Desire vs. Prescription and the liminal versions of agency within.

I believe that there is much to be seen in the most outwardly mundane utility of gestures.

Depths manifest in the what at first may seem like absurdity or the chaos of chance.

It is my plan to continue exploring the themes around my upbringing and place including these treks in Utah and elsewhere ~ (as the church conducts them many places in the U.S. as well as overseas) , and compile it into a book when the time is right.

My hope is that these images orient others in an empathic way.

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