The exhibition Cowboy will bring together loans and new commissions from twenty-seven artists representing a wide range of perspectives including Asian American artists, Latinx artists, and Native artists. The exhibition aims to shift the narrative of this figure’s cultural power and significance to be both historically accurate and creatively imaginative.
“Using the lens of art and artists, this sweeping exhibition will explore the origins of the American cowboy and how the figure and its mythology persist today. Cowboy speaks to the museum’s ambition to challenge, revise, and reconceive how such a myth originated and might be probed in exciting, courageous, and nuanced ways,” said Nora Burnett Abrams, Mark G. Falcone Director of MCA Denver.
“The American cowboy is vividly and enduringly present in the popular mindset, as a character, a seductive ideal, and as a laborer, but most established narratives fail to acknowledge the wildly diverse histories and lived experiences surrounding this profession,” added Miranda Lash, Ellen Bruss Senior Curator at MCA Denver.
The exhibition asks: How does the myth of the cowboy exist today? How has the cowboy as an archetype of masculinity shaped how we think about gender now? What assumptions do we have about cowboys’ relationship to the land and how does this relate to the real, lived experiences of contemporary cowboys? By presenting a broad range of perspectives, this exhibition aims to break apart the homogenous ideal of the cowboy as a white, cisgender American male and showcase the diverse manifestations of this figure across many different communities and in a variety of media.