Autry Exhibit - Home Lands: How Women Made the West

On View April 16 through August 22, 2010


Los Angeles , CA-- A major exhibition celebrating the enduring spirit of the diverse women of the West offers a real portrait that disspells myths about the completely void and empty wilderness where men struggled against nature, period. Women’s roles through the stories of the Native American women who first made their homes in the region as well as the women from many different cultures, who have migrated to the West for hundreds of years focuses on three regions: northern New Mexico, the Colorado Front Range, and Puget Sound, Washington. Cultural diversity; women’s lives; and the ways in which women responded to and shaped their environs are themes that run through the body of work.


Stories of women such as Dr. Justina Ford, the first African American woman doctor in Colorado; noted educator, home economist and author Fabiola Cabeza de Baca of New Mexico; and Bertha Knight Landes, mayor of Seattle from 1926 to 1928 and the first female mayor of a major American city; these are examples of women who you may not hear much about, but who played important roles in shaping the American West.


The exhibition illustrates their extraordinary stories and many more with nearly 200 objects spanning more than 1,200 years. From a Mogollon metate (grinding stone), circa A.D. 750-1150, to a 20th century station wagon— textiles and historic clothing from the 18th through the 20th centuries; ancient and modern pottery; paintings, photography, and sculpture by historic and contemporary women artists; books, photographs, and other ephemera will be featured throughout the exhibition. More than two-thirds of the exhibition is drawn from the Autry’s collections.


The exhibition design of Home Lands, by Los Angeles-based design firm M/M (Christopher Muñiz and Tim McNeil) is immersive and visually striking. Custom lighting, audio elements, video installations and unique materials—such as corn husks for wall covering, folded origami, and a canvas panel emulating a blue Denver sky—enhance the visitor experience. The exhibition will include a video installation featuring more than 40 women of different backgrounds, ages, professions, and ethnicities speaking about what it means for them to live today in the three featured regions.


Each section of the exhibition features the work of renowned female visual artists from the 19th century to the present day, including Pueblo potter Maria Martinez (1881-1980), painter Pablita Velarde (1918-2006); painter Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986); photographer Laura Gilpin (1891-1979); painter Henrietta Bromwell (1859-1946); painter Eve Drewelowe (1899-1989); painter Elizabeth Warhanik (1880-1968); and photographer Virna Haffer (1899-1974).


In addition to Aki Sogabe, the contemporary artists featured in the exhibition are New Mexican santero maker Gloria Lopez Cordova; Santa Clara Pueblo artists Tammy Garcia and Nora Noranjo Morse; Colorado-based painter Elizabeth Elting; Coastal Salish sculptor Susan Point; and poet and playwright Joy Harjo, who has been commissioned to create a video work especially for Home Lands that is inspired by a historic narrative of slavery and interracial marriage in 19th century New Mexico.