Think you know the West? Think again.
Unsettled amasses 200 artworks by 80 artists living and/or working in a super-region we call the Greater West, a geographic area that stretches from Alaska to Patagonia, and from Australia to the American West. Though ranging across thousands of miles, this region shares many similarities: vast expanses of open land, rich natural resources, diverse indigenous peoples, colonialism, and the ongoing conflicts that inevitably arise when these factors coexist.
Unsettled makes connections among the diverse cultures and artistic practices of this super-region. The specific geographic focus of Unsettled begins in Alaska and continues down the west coast of North America, through Central America, concluding in Colombia. Works included span 2,000 years, ranging from Pre-Columbian to modern and contemporary art. Among the contemporary Alaska artists whose works are included in this exhibition are Rebecca Lyon, Nicholas Galanin, Da-ka-xeen Mehner, Allison Warden and the late Ken Lisbourne.
Shifting Ground. Colliding Cultures. Colonizing Resources.
These comparative Wests may be thousands of miles apart, but they share remarkably similar histories born of collision between indigenous and frontier cultures. They also share common concerns of land and water use, harvest and extraction, and the preservation of natural beauty and wide-open spaces. The Greater West is the frontier of Hernan Cortez, Captain James Cook, and Lewis and Clark. Its cowboys and miners have hunted and fished and lived in Fairbanks and Fair Oaks, in Mexico City and Melbourne, in Santiago and San Diego. Further, notions of the "Greater West" include new frontiers such as outer space, high technology, and art forms made possible by new explorations.
Five themes serve as the guiding organizational scheme for the exhibition: Shifting Ground (geology as agency for creation and destruction); Colliding Cultures (successive peoples settling and re-settling territories); Colonizing Resources (natural resources as necessities or property); The Sublime Open (sublime landscapes elevating curiosity to profound enchantment and terror); and Experimental Diversity (peoples giving rise to artistic practices – traditional, technological, psychedelic – that converge and converse over time.
Organized by the Nevada Art Museum's Curatorial Director and Curator of Contemporary Art JoAnne Northrup with collaborating curator, iconic Los Angeles artist Ed Ruscha, the exhibition opened at the Nevada Museum of Art last fall and travels to the Palm Springs Art Museum after its run here.
As part of the exhibition, artist and perfumer Bruno Fazzolari has created a bespoke, commissioned scent, Unsettled Eau de Parfum, available for purchase in the Anchorage Museum Store. A major publication also accompanies the exhibition. Published by Hirmer Verlag and designed by Brad Bartlett, Unsettled includes an essay by Anchorage Museum Director Julie Decker and features 110 color images.
The Unsettled Partnership
The Nevada Museum of Art and the Anchorage Museum are the major art museums in their respective states. The two museums share a deep commitment to the collection, preservation and interpretation of interdisciplinary knowledge in the visual arts. Both institutions collect and work actively with materials from multiple cultures across large areas, from prehistoric times to the present. With global attention urgently focused on the changing environment, the emphasis these museums place on artists and their environments is critical in developing meaningful conversations about culture and the landscape, including those prompted by Unsettled.
This exhibition is made possible by the generosity of these sponsors:
Ed and Cathy Rasmuson
Judy Rasmuson and Ronald Wallace
Louise A. Tarble Foundation
Wayne and Miriam Prim
Anne Brockinton Lee
Stacie and Charles N. Mathewson
Mercedes-Benz of Reno
RBC Wealth Management
City National Bank