Arts & Humanities

USU Grad Bailey Rigby Earns Acclaim for Research-Based Storytelling Through Photography

By Annabel Higbee |

Bailey Rigby

Bailey Rigby, a 2023 Art + Design graduate of Utah State University, has garnered significant recognition for her research-based storytelling through the art of photography. Recently highlighted in 15 Bytes Magazine, Juxtapoz Magazine, and Float Magazine, Rigby's work delves into themes of religion, family history and tradition, employing her distinctive style of conceptual and archival documentary.

Since graduating, Rigby has focused on her latest body of work, titled "I Was Meant to Make a Garden of This Land." This series intertwines two opposing storylines of religious pilgrimage within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, exploring the similarities and differences in both current and historical crises of faith. Two photographs from the series were recently featured in the exhibition "Reframed" at Modern West Fine Art in Salt Lake City, where Rigby now works full time.

Reflecting on her journey, Rigby shared her early struggles with finding her path.

"My teenage self was fully entrenched in the anxieties of determining what it was I was meant to do with my life," she said.

Despite starting with no formal artistic experience, she found her calling in photography just before her junior year of high school. Her dedication and perseverance through numerous failures led her to discover the subtle storytelling and poetic nature of photography she now embraces.

Prior to her current role, Rigby served as both the multimedia editor for The Utah Statesman and gallery assistant at the Tippetts and Eccles Galleries. Her transition to a gallerist at Modern West has allowed her to manage the sales and marketing of artwork while benefiting from mentorship and collaboration within the local arts community.

"At Modern West, I do a little bit of everything, and I absolutely love it,” Rigby said. “My main roles as a gallerist are to manage the marketing and sales of our artists’ work. I also get to manage the press releases, write social media posts, and assist in the installation and deinstallation of our exhibitions. These are all things I learned how to do at USU, and I feel so grateful to carry this knowledge and experience with me."

During her time at USU, Rigby received mentorship from assistant professor of photography Jared Ragland, who praises her work.

"By documenting and illustrating the matters of family, faith and place,” Ragland said, “Bailey’s work succeeds in doing what great art should do: translating the universal to the personal and providing a platform for viewers to thoughtfully consider, and perhaps even challenge, social understandings, customs and beliefs."

Rigby also notes the importance of leaning into resources and support systems during her undergraduate years to prepare for a professional career in the arts. Her involvement with The Utah Statesman provided valuable lessons in storytelling through both photography and written word, which she applies daily in her role at Modern West.

Reflecting on her journey at USU, Rigby advises perseverance amidst the uncertainty of postgraduate life.

"Becoming a practicing artist outside of the classroom can be an incredibly daunting thing. Artists thrive from a challenge — creativity stems from finding solutions to given problems, and with no problems, our creative abilities can be stifled," she said. "Take this lack of structure and make it your challenge. Be fully enveloped in the art-making process, even if it is awkward or unsuccessful. Embrace the slow burn of the journey. And remember: your efforts will be recognized if you make your efforts known."

Committed to furthering her career within the arts, Rigby aims to share her work through various exhibitions and publications and plans to pursue a Master of Fine Arts degree in the near future.

Visit to learn more about Rigby’s work.


Annabel Higbee
Marketing Communications Intern
Caine College of the Arts


Jared Ragland
Assistant Professor of Photography
Department of Art + Design
(435) 797-1227


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