Currently, there are several “blockbuster” art exhibitions along the Wasatch Front exploring cultural aspects of the American Indian. The BYU Museum of Art’s Visions of the Southwest and the Utah Museum of Fine Arts’s Splendid Heritage are two enjoyable and informative presentations of art and philosophies involving indigenous American peoples. At the UMFA, the historical exhibition Karl Bodmer: Beyond the Frontier offers a 19th-century artist’s sympathetic and insightful reaction to such cultures.
Bodmer’s 30 engravings documenting his exploration into the interior of North America in 1832 are artistic and historical masterpieces. Although the American Indians were and would continue to be brutalized, Bodmer’s engravings are warm and humanizing. “Women of the Snake Tribe” (1833), said Bodmer, depict women who “perform all the heavy work. They pitch the tents, they crop, saw, cut, gather, carry home the firewood, tan the hides.” Candid moments such as these are the strength of the exhibit, placed beside iconic warriors engraved venerably and respectfully.
Karl Bodmer: Beyond the Frontier @ Utah Museum of Fine Arts, 410 Campus Center Drive, 801-581-7332, through June 21. UMFA.Utah.edu.