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ASU art professor featured in exhibition examining the West, counter-landscapes

Angela Ellsworth, a professor in the School of Art in Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, is one of several notable contemporary artists featured in a new exhibition that examines the complicated construct that is the American West.

Seer Bonnet XIX (Flora Ann), 2011.

The exhibition is called “Monument Valley” and refers to a tourism website for Monument Valley in Utah that states, “Monument Valley isn’t a national park. It’s not even a national monument. But it’s as American as it gets.”  

The exhibition, which is at the Des Moines Art Center through Jan. 12, 2020, features contemporary artists “who view the stereotypes and mythology around the West and westerns, and show how these concepts echo in American identity and the political and social crises of our time,” according to the center's website.

The artists brought together for the exhibition are indigenous, black, white, Latinx and multiracial, come from multiple regions of North America and represent various cultural backgrounds and identities. In addition to Ellsworth, other artists featured are Gina Adams, Doug Aitken, Jeremiah Ariaz, Kahlil Joseph, John Jota Leaños, Kent Monkman, Anja Niemi, Catherine Opie, Wendy Red Star, Sarah Sense and Jordan Weber.

Ellsworth, a multidisciplinary artist traversing disciplines of drawing, sculpture, installation, video and performance, is interested in art merging with everyday life where public and private experiences collide in unexpected spaces. Her solo and collaborative work has taken on wide-ranging subjects such as illness, physical fitness, endurance, religious tradition and social ritual. She has presented work nationally and internationally, including at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), Museum of Contemporary Art (Sydney, Australia), Zacheta National Gallery of Art (Warsaw, Poland), National Review of Live Art (Glasgow, Scotland), Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions and Phoenix Art Museum. 

Ellsworth is also featured in an ongoing exhibition at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. As a counter to the notion that land art deals exclusively with artists who work with earth as their medium, “Counter-Landscapes: Performative Actions from the 1970s – Now” presents a group of artists working in both natural and urban environments whose work exploits the power of place to address issues of social, environmental and personal transformation. Ellsworth is included in this exhibition along with Marina Abramović, Allora & Calzadilla, Francis Alÿs, Eleanor Antin, Ana Theresa Fernandez, Mona Hatoum, Zhou Tao and more.

The Museum of Walking, which was founded by Ellsworth as an artist-led educational resource center committed to the advancement of walking as an art practice, will be holding a walk that connects  the landscape to community and art on Jan. 18 in conjunction with the exhibition. 

The exhibition in Scottsdale runs through Jan. 19, 2020.