A plant in the foreground against the silhouette of a oil pump jack and sunset.

Blaire Briody

Artist in Residence, 2015

Artist Statement

I’m a journalist who focuses on environmental and economic issues and how they affect everyday Americans. My work has appeared in The New York Times, Popular Science, Fast Company, among others, and I previously worked as a reporter and editor at the national business news site, The Fiscal Times. For nearly two years, I’ve covered the oil boom in North Dakota, a region which has undergone complete transformation. The boom has attracted thousands of workers, mostly men, from all over America who hole themselves up in man camps located hundreds of miles from their families. Farmers watch the land that’s been in their family for 100 years plowed away to make room for more oil wells, and Native Americans find toxic waste illegally dumped on their reservations. I’ve been collecting people’s stories and photos, and worked on a short documentary about the region. You can follow the project at theoilmen.wordpress.com.

While At Headlands

At Headlands I will be working on my first book, The New Wild West, about North Dakota’s oil boom to be published by Macmillan/St. Martin’s Press in 2016. It will detail how a once-quiet town suddenly became the new frontier of U.S. energy independence, weaving in stories of the families who have lived there for generations and the migrant laborers desperate to make a living. To complete the initial research, I spent two months living in Williston, North Dakota to be near my subjects and document the town’s struggles to adjust to the oil boom. I hope to give a voice to the people living in the region, and provide the reader with a deep understanding of what fracking, oil and our relationship to the land means for all of us.

Banner image credit: Will Christiansen

Selected Works

The Dark Side of North Dakota’s Oil Boom

Undercover as a Day Laborer in North Dakota

A Hard Road Behind, a New Road Ahead