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BYU Museum of Arts hosts literary events to support Southwestern exhibit

Gloria Cronin to discuss Willa Cather's "Death comes for the Archbishop"

On two consecutive Thursdays in May, the Brigham Young University Museum of Art will provide an opportunity for visitors to explore America’s fascination with its Southwestern landscape through the works of the artists and authors whose romantic visions of these wild areas continue to influence the way we think about them today.

“There is something peaceful and awe-inspiring about the great southwestern desert — its rich and varied beauty engages our aesthetic sensibilities,” said Museum of Art educator Rita Wright. “We hope to encourage further contemplation of these sensitivities with our first-ever reading circle, which will focus on Willa Cather’s enduring novel of the American Southwest ‘Death comes for the Archbishop.’”

On Thursday, May 7, at 7 p.m. in the auditorium on the museum’s lower level, Gloria Cronin of the BYU English Department will introduce Cather's “Death Comes For the Archbishop” in a 50-minute illustrated lecture. The lecture will document Cather’s numerous visits to the religious landmarks of Taos and Santa Fe, New Mexico, as well as the many stories of the area told to her by priests, miners, railroad workers, Native Americans, explorers, hunters and artists.

“Cather’s painterly prose owes much to her intimate acquaintance with the early Taos and Santa Fe artists who were busy recording the local landscape, its animals, occupations, peoples, artifacts, textiles, dwellings, sacred places, rituals and religion,” Cronin said. “Like their paintings, her anthropologically accurate prose was also filled with nostalgia and longing for the purity of the primordial — an unmediated space in which to rethink the American relationship between self, nature, God, culture and a disorienting modernity.”

Those who are interested in reading and discussing “Death Comes for the Archbishop” are invited back to the museum on on Thursday, May 14, to attend the first-ever MOA Reading Circle event. Museum staff members and Cronin will take part in the reading circle, which will be held at 7 p.m. in the West Lied Gallery on the museum’s main level.

Copies of “Death Comes For the Archbishop” are available at a discount from the Museum Store. For more information about the store, call (801) 422-8251. This lecture and reading circle event are offered in conjunction with the museum exhibition “Visions of the Southwest from the Diane and Sam Stewart Art Collection.” Admission to the lecture, reading circle and exhibition is free. For more information about the lecture and reading circle, call the museum at (801) 422-8287.

“Visions of the Southwest from the Diane and Sam Stewart Art Collection,” currently on view at the BYU Museum of Art, features 124 works of art from the private collection of Diane and Sam Stewart, Utah art collectors and friends of the museum.

The oil paintings, works on paper, and sculpture in this collection were created by many of the master artists of Taos and Santa Fe as well as their contemporaries in California, Utah, and other Western states. Native American baskets, pots, and rugs from the Stewart’s collection and antique furniture from the Gerald Peters Gallery in Santa Fe complement the works in the exhibition.

The exhibition will be on view through July 3, 2009.

Writer: Ann Herd

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