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Many Wests: Artists Shape an American Idea

Ken Gonzales-Day
Executing Bandits in Mexico, 2006
Erased Lynching Series, 2006-2020
Archival inkjet on rag paper mounted on cardstock
Edition of 6
3.8 x 6 in.

Many Wests: Artists Shape an American Idea

Ken Gonzales-Day is included in Many Wests: Artists Shape an American Idea, on view at the Boise Museum of Art through February 13, 2022. Ideas about the American West, both in the popular imagination and in commonly accepted historical narratives, are often based on a past that never was, and fail to take into account important events that actually occurred.  “The West” can conjure images of rugged colonial settlers,  gun-toting-cowboys, or vacant expanses of natural beauty. Many Wests: Artists Shape an American Idea offers multiple views of “The West” through the perspectives of forty-eight modern and contemporary artists. Their artworks question old and racist clichés, examine tragic and marginalized histories, and illuminate the many communities and events that continue to form this region of the United States. The exhibition explores the specific ways artists actively shape our understanding of the life, history and myths of the American West. 

Many Wests features artwork from the permanent collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and four partner museums located in some of the fastest-growing cities and states in the western region of the United States. The collaborating partner museums are the Boise Art Museum in Idaho; the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art in Eugene, Oregon; the Utah Museum of Fine Arts in Salt Lake City; and the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, Washington. It is the culmination of a multi-year, joint curatorial initiative made possible by the Art Bridges Foundation.

This is one in a series of American art exhibitions created through a multi-year, multi-institutional partnership formed by the Smithsonian American Art Museum as part of the Art Bridges Initiative.

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