Guest post by Dr. Kenneth Hartvigsen, MOA Curator of American Art
America is more than its land, as remarkable as its scenic beauty and economic potential may be. It is more than its population; a diverse body striving to come together as one. America is also founded upon, and constantly re-imagining itself in relationship to, grand narratives that commemorate history, and promote practices and beliefs. In many ways, America is defined by its stories.
Some of those stories are true, others are fiction, and some become myths and legends. But they are all important in shaping our understanding of the nation. We communicate who we are what we believe through the stories we read, write, and share. The galleries of Becoming America contain artworks that tell some of America’s stories, from historical events and conflicts to the persistent myths of the American frontier. Some of these stories come from our shared history, others are folktales, legends, or even stories from comic books. These stories promote ideal attributes that we want to make part of our national character, such as the desire for unity, the rewards of American ingenuity and hard work, and our collective resilience in the face of adversity. These stories speak not only of who we are, but who we hope we can still become.
The new exhibition Becoming America highlights and explores these American stories and urges you to reflect on the stories of your own life and how they too are the story of America.
Becoming America is now on display at the BYU Museum of Art.