October 5, 2019 – January 12, 2020
Anna K. Meredith Gallery
In visiting the tourist website for Monument Valley in Utah, one encounters a brief history of the geologic formation in Utah, from its nearness to Anasazi settlements to its appearance in dozens of films. The final pitch reads “Monument Valley isn’t a national park. It’s not even a national monument. But it’s as American as it gets.” Just below this line, a map shows the Valley sits within lands held by the Navajo Nation. In this version of America, the complicated layers of history remain unsettled, resisting border lines drawn on maps and Hollywood versions of good guys and bad. Taking its title from this celebrated and exploited landscape, Monument Valley presents multiple views of the complicated construct that is the “American West.” It features contemporary artists who view the stereotypes and mythology around the West and westerns, and show how these concepts echo in American identity and the political and social crises of our time. The artists brought together for Monument Valley are Indigenous, Black, white, Latinx, and multiracial, from multiple regions of North America, and represent various cultural backgrounds and identities. This exhibition aspires to make room in the museum for narratives other than those of the dominant culture – new stories and new ways to see history.
Monument Valley was organized by Des Moines Art Center Curator Laura Burkhalter. A wide range of media will be included, including painting, photography, fiber work, and video. Artists featured in the exhibition include Gina Adams, Doug Aitken, Angela Ellsworth, Kahlil Joseph, John Jota Leaños, Kent Monkman, Anja Niemi, Catherine Opie, Wendy Red Star, Sarah Sense, and Jordan Weber.