Sheldon Museum of Art


Date of this Version



Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery and Sculpture Garden, University of Nebraska- Lincoln, October 10 - November 25, 2001.


All images are copyright by the original artists. Publication copyright 2001 The Regents of the University of Nebraska


The Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery and Sculpture Garden is pleased to present The Visual Culture of PRAIRIE SCHOONER, an exhibition of forty images from the pages of one of the more distinguished literary magazines in the country. Celebrating its seventy-fifth year of publication, the Prairie Schooner almost from the outset became a much sought after venue for the publication of poems, short fiction, criticism, and personal essays for many of the nation's important and soon-to-be important writers. This exhibition explores the role that visual imagery has played in this important and influential magazine. If, as Henry Rago asserts, "a literary magazine is a form of conversation," visual imagery has participated in and facilitated this conversation.

Of the many important functions they serve, "little magazines" articulate and sustain creative communities. And visual imagery has played a subtle but nonetheless important role in building and maintaining a loyal and committed community of readers. No doubt these readers will be surprised that visual imagery has played any role whatsoever in Prairie Schooner, much less that it might actually possess something even remotely resembling a "visual culture." But it does.

The intimate and complex relationship between the word and image is an important, but often unrecognized, part of the history of modern art. 2 Throughout the 20th century, the manifesto and the artist's statement developed almost simultaneously with the emergence of a visual art that transcended language. Everywhere modern visual art is, language is close by. And, as this exhibition will show, everywhere language is, there will be visual imagery lurking somewhere. It might not be prominent, but it is there and thus worth taking seriously. From the perspective of visual and material culture, Prairie Schooner is much more than the sum of its literary contents. It has become a symbolically-charged artifact that has succeeded in creating a literary community, sustaining a "following," and an "audience."