CFP: "Remote Sensing: Visual Culture in the American West in Modernity and After" College Art Association 2018

Melissa Ragain Discussion

In 1991 William Truettner’s exhibition “The West as America” submitted our mythic images of the “Old West” to the methods of what was then called “new art history,” setting frontier imagery in conversation with the anxieties of the industrial and post-industrial ages. Despite the efforts of art historians in the 1990s to pierce the veil of these myths, recent scholarship such as Philipp Kaiser and Miwon Kwon’s Ends of the Earth, has exposed the ways that contemporary art has also treated the West as an imaginary place, remote from contemporary art and politics. The supposed aesthetic seclusion of the West is harmful for a region whose politics of land use, animal rights, tribal sovereignty, and environmental conservation are integral to American politics today, and reinforces the misconception that the art practices associated with this region—those of contemporary Native American artists, or the studio-craft tradition, for example—develop independently from the mainstream art world. The recent art historical recuperation of the West Coast, focused primarily on California, has overlooked histories of the Pacific Northwest and Mountain West, where populations are more widely dispersed and where patronage and documentation have been less abundant.  Nevertheless, research like that of Lucy Lippard on mining culture, Bill Anthes on Native Modernism, and Patricia Junker on the Northwest School have challenged readers to see Western art as part of global modernity. This panel seeks papers that address fine art and visual culture in the American West from World War I to the present.

Please send a 250-word abstract to by August 14, 2017. Complete instructions can be found at: 

This panel is part of the CAA 106th Annual Conference, Los Angeles, February 21–24, 2018