Behind the Scenes at the DAM

New DAM Publication Explores Western American Art's Diversity

The Petrie Institute of Western American Art at the Denver Art Museum marked its tenth anniversary in 2011. To celebrate, PIWAA enlisted 30 scholars to explore the western American art holdings in the DAM’s collection.  Their research, covering everything from a portion of a New Mexican altarpiece to a magnificent Native American coat, is compiled in PIWAA’s most recent publication, Elevating Western American Art: Developing an Institute in the Cultural Capital of the Rockies.

Many of the authors chosen to contribute to the publication that was released in April come from our own ranks, including staff from almost every curatorial department.  Why would we recruit a curator of contemporary art or Asian art to write about art of the American West?  To celebrate the diversity of objects at the DAM that relate to western American art.  While the book highlights PIWAA’s undisputed masterworks, including Frederic Remington’s The Cheyenne and Charles Russell’s In the Enemy’s Country, objects like a Japanese woodblock print depicting Yosemite also are considered.

At 300 pages and with 320 color illustrations, Elevating Western American Art is a testament to the fact that western American art stubbornly refuses to be fenced in by traditional art historical boundaries. The writings may just inspire you to think differently about art of the American West.

Elevating Western American Art is available to purchase in the Museum Shop and online.

Karen Brooks McWhorter is the department assistant in the department of western American art. Karen has been with DAM since 2009, and when visiting the museum, she recommends that visitors don’t miss the special selection of Charles Marion Russell paintings on the seventh floor of the North Building.