Myths of the West: Narrating Stories of the Land and People through Wichita Art Collections introduces viewers to diverse narratives of the history of the American West, focusing in particular on the history of the Great Plains and the perspectives of Native American artists, both past and present. The exhibition showcases works held in Wichita art collections, with additional loans from outside of Wichita adding works by contemporary Native artists. Comprised of approximately 80 pieces, Myths of the West questions familiar narratives by juxtaposing works of art that capture them with ones that delve into underrepresented and difficult histories. These include the significant presence of African Americans in the West; the roles available to women on the frontier; and, above all, the dispossession, destruction, and cultural genocide that White settlement brought to Native Americans. Focusing in large part on bringing together works by three generations of Native American artists, the exhibition emphasizes that despite all odds, Native cultures continued to persist and innovate throughout the 20th century and remain a vital part of American life today.
Banner: Jacob Lawrence, Black Cowboys (detail), 1962. Ulrich Museum of Art, Wichita State University, Museum Purchase.