Too often the narratives around Western America are focused on the experiences of white men, portrayed as pure heroes roaming across an empty dessert. Modern West Fine Art in Salt Lake City, however, uses art to regularly challenge the erasure of Native Americans from history books and the beauty of uncharted natural landscapes by featuring a wide array of imaginative artists from the West. This February and March, they’re revisiting two iconic artists who portray the American West as a place of natural diversity (and diverse nature).
Shonto Begay grew up in rural Arizona herding sheep. His acrylic paintings feature short brush-strokes repeating “like the words of a traditional Navajo blessing prayer” bringing to life his childhood memories. A common thread throughout his work is the struggle for harmony between nature and humankind. Modern West says that he “allows his dreams to create pictorial expressions of Native experiences and lands.”
Woody Shepherd lives in Logan, Utah where he works as a professor of painting and drawing at Utah State University. He creates bold landscape paintings with dramatic layers inspired by the environment surrounding him, creating uncommon depth and composition. Says Modern West, “Woody Shepherd’s bold landscapes demand presence.”
As the struggle for diversity in artistic representation of the United States continues, Modern West is a haven of authentic portrayals of what it really means to be an American as it portrays the beauty of nature. Find solace in diversity and Western landscapes, or at least the portrayal of them, by visiting their gallery during the next month. Shepherd and Begay’s pieces will be featured at Modern West from February 17-March 11, 2017.
Modern West Art is located at 177 E 200 South, SLC. For more info visit their site.
-by Amy Whiting