PARK CITY MUSEUM
Nov 10 - Jan 7, 2019
Westward expansion was one of the most transformational elements in American life throughout the nineteenth century. Printed imagery played an important role in the dissemination of knowledge and understanding about the West and those who inhabited it. Imprinting the West: Manifest Destiny, Real and Imagined features 48 hand-colored engravings and lithographs that explore these depictions and the influence artists had on the perception of the wild west.
In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson purchased the expansive territory known as Louisiana from Napoleon, King of France, a transaction that extended the nation’s boundaries by 828,000 square miles, including all of present-day Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, and parts of Minnesota, North and South Dakota, New Mexico, Texas, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and Louisiana. The Louisiana Purchase set the stage for great exploration and discovery, migration and settlement, in addition to struggle and conflict. Convinced that God wanted the country to extend to the Pacific coast—an idea called “Manifest Destiny”—scores of American citizens, including painters and printmakers, moved west.
The works featured in Imprinting the West explore the potent imagery of the time that shaped how the American Indians and the west were understood. Westward expansion in the nineteenth century was intertwined closely with the experiences of American Indian peoples. The Indian Removal Act of 1830 dislocated native populations in the east to areas west of the Mississippi River and was justified by the self-serving claim that the so-called “savages” would wither in the presence of “civilization.” The migration westward and settlement of white Americans only accelerated territorial tensions, which often culminated in bloodshed.
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