The University of Arizona Museum of Art and Archive of Visual Arts

The Myth and The Mirror: Artwork of the American West

Roland Reiss Adventures in the Painted Desert A Murder Mystery (Detail)
Roland Reiss (Detail)

January 20 – April 1, 2018

The Myth and The Mirror: Artwork of the American West examines the American West as a real and imagined place that embodies the fraught interconnections between exploration and colonization, national identity, and manifest destiny. This exhibition explores the art of this iconic region of the United States by utilizing The University of Arizona Museum of Art’s Western Art collection, including artworks from every decade of the 20th century and into the first decade of the 21st century.

Many artists have portrayed and celebrated the natural beauty of the area and glorified the lives of its inhabitants. Others question the complicated history and portrayal of Native Americans and Mexicans in light of exploitation of both people and land. In this exhibition “myth” represents a range of often romanticized and glorified views of the American West while “mirror” underscores the fluid terrain of meaning in representation and seeks out a more nuanced view of this place, both real and imagined. The Myth and The Mirror invites viewers to see that there are, in fact, many American “wests” and to consider the artists, institutions, archives, curators, and historians who have contributed to its construction. 

Curated by Dustin Shores and Eric Wilson


Image Credit: Roland Reiss, Adventures in the Painted Desert: A Murder Mystery, 1975-1976, Mixed Media, Museum purchase with funds provided by the Edward J. Gallagher, Jr. Memorial Fund