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Dixon, Lange, and Hamlin

Dixon Symposium Rapid Recap 3

Attendees at a MOA Symposium

By MOA Student Marketing Assistant Olivia Barney

The third session of our Maynard Dixon symposium celebrated the women who influenced Maynard Dixon, his life, and his art. These remarkable women had artistic careers of their own, and much of their art is reflected in the works of Maynard Dixon, just as his work can be seen reflected in theirs. The experiences these women shared with Maynard Dixon, as well as the political and economic landscape of America at the time, contributed significantly to the trajectory of Dixon’s career. In this session, three scholars spoke about two of the wives of Maynard Dixon and how their lives with Dixon inspired much of the art that we now know and love.

"Dorothea Lange's Humanist Turn: Looking for the Forgotten Men"

Dr. Kenneth Hartvigsen, who curated our Maynard Dixon: Searching for a Home exhibition before accepting a full-time teaching position at Brigham Young University, highlighted the undeniable connection that Dixon and his wife of fifteen years, Dorothea Lange, shared through their art. While arguments could certainly be made that their works influenced each other (compare Lange’s Migrant worker on California highway, 1935, and Dixon’s Destination Nowhere, 1941), Dr. Hartvigsen points out that many of Dixon’s social realist paintings, as well as Lange’s documentary photography, could be attributed to witnessing the effects of the Great Depression on the American population. Both artists attributed their inspiration for these works to the homelessness, poverty, and grief-stricken individuals that they encountered during the onset of the Great Depression. Still, studying their work side by side can help illustrate the depth of their shared experiences as well as the differences in perspective that existed between them.

"Lost and Found: Reconstructing Edith Hamlin (1902-1992)"

Dr. Betsy Fahlman of Arizona State University examined the life and influences of Dixon’s third wife, Edith Hamlin. Hamlin was also a talented artist who sought to depict the American West, but much of her art remains within private collections to this day. Hamlin considered her marriage to Dixon to be the happiest years of her life, and they challenged one another to grow as artists. After Dixon’s death, Hamlin focused on painting murals to get her through those early days of grief. She was commissioned by both private companies and the federal government to paint large murals in public spaces. These projects financed her new art studio and gave her an impressive reputation as an artist. While many scholars argue that Edith Hamlin never received the public attention that she deserved as an artist, in recent years, Hamlin’s work has been reexamined and evaluated as the significant and impressive work it is.

"'The Beginning of My Professional Life as a Muralist:' An Analysis of Edith Hamlin's Mission High School Murals"

University of Oklahoma PhD Candidate Meagan Anderson Evans also presented on the work of Edith Hamlin. This presentation takes a deeper dive into Hamlin’s Mission High School murals, which acted as propaganda material for the federal government during a time when the Indian Reorganization Act or “Indian New Deal” was being enacted. These murals, which Hamlin considered to be the beginning of her professional life as a muralist, despite having completed several successful murals prior, depict an idealistic view of the relationship between Native Americans and early colonizers. These were politically charged pieces, and Evans explores their effects on the political climate at the time of their creation.

More Symposium Rapid Recaps

Dixon's Poetic Imagination

Dixon Symposium Rapid Recap 6

Picturing the West

Dixon Symposium Rapid Recap 5

Man vs. Rock

Dixon Symposium Rapid Recap 4

Dixon and Native Peoples

Dixon Symposium Rapid Recap 2

The World of Maynard Dixon

Dixon Symposium Rapid Recap 1