Viewer Voices: In-Between Times and Maynard Dixon s The Lonesome Journey

There are times in life when being alone is about more than physical isolation. The “in-between times,” I like to call them, are when we are left to discover an unknown path that tests who we believe we are. They are in-between times because once the transition to this new path is complete and the unknown becomes the uncovered, we in turn uncover a new layer of ourselves. And that is a beautiful discovery.

The Lonesome Journey by Maynard Dixon exemplifies the feeling of these times, and it struck a chord with me when I first saw it. It is thought to be the last painting Dixon did before he passed away, which, considering the painting s subject, is poetic. The lonesome traveler depicted in the painting is seen to be heading into the shadows of an enormous sandstone wall—symbolically, death. It is a journey that he is going into alone.

Seeing the painting resonated with my own looming wall I feel ahead: college. Some people may not think this is very frightening because they have already experienced it, but to me, the forthcoming shadow of big classes and bigger choices gets me a little weak in the knees. As I sat on a bench and looked at The Lonesome Journey, I could feel the overwhelming apprehension the wall ahead sends. Yet, I also feel hope. Though there is an in-between time when we feel alone, in reality, we never truly are. As this lonesome traveler reaches the end of his journey, people will be waiting to bring him to another home. So just as this lonesome traveler passes into another stage of life, so do I. This painting brings me hope because it shows the journey from the unknown to the uncovered and that when we look back on our walls, they will have fallen to simple memories.

— Caroline Madsen, student assistant, BYU Museum of Art.

What images or sculptures at the BYU Museum of Art have affected you and how? Send your 300 -500 word responses to, and you could be published on the MOA blog.


Image: Lonesome Journey, 1946, Maynard Dixon (1875-1946), oil on canvas, 26 1/8 x 36 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of Dickman Investment, 1974.