Sheldon Museum of Art


Date of this Version



Exhibition brochure, June 2--August 23, 2015.


Compilation & text copyright Sheldon Museum of Art, University of Nebraska.


This exhibition foregrounds Sheldon Museum of Art’s collecting strength in fine and decorative arts with connections to New Mexico, and, more broadly, to the desert Southwest. For thousands of years this corner of the United States, situated on the north-south trade route between Colorado and Mexico and at the western edge of the Great Plains, has hosted human habitations, each with its own distinctive material culture. The area’s diverse topography and population have inspired countless visual responses, from petroglyphs to photographs. The state’s relative isolation—at least before the mid-twentieth century—provided a backdrop upon which the movement of goods, practices, ideas, and iconography could be traced readily. In terms of aesthetic production and economic benefit, Santa Fe, the state’s capital city, is currently the country’s third largest art market. Employing a Western linear chronological model, Land of Enchantment highlights several of the region’s outstanding geographical and meteorological features before presenting the successive waves of settlement that occurred over the course of the Common Era’s second millennium, from the Anasazi to Spanish Catholics, from Sephardic Jews to Anglo-Saxon Protestants. How these peoples encountered and responded to each other remains an important part of the state’s history. The objects they produced reflect the region’s allure, substantiating Georgia O’Keeffe’s claim that “If you ever go to New Mexico, it will itch you for the rest of your life.”