Petrie Institute of Western American Art's 9th Annual Symposium Explores Portraits

Petrie Institute of Western American Art's 9th Annual Symposium Explores Portraits

What can be learned from a portrait? Far more than a likeness of a particular person, a portrait can tell us about a sitter’s values, principles, or aspirations. Conversely, a portrait can reveal the outlook of its creator, the artist. A portrait also can convey much about the political and social climate of the time in which the subject and artist lived. The Denver Art Museum is currently offering numerous opportunities to explore the topic of portraiture.

On January 7, 2015, the Petrie Institute of Western American Art will present its ninth annual symposium, Western Character: Expressions of Identity and Place in Portraiture. This one-day event will examine portraits from the American West.

Four speakers will take a closer look at the subjects, settings, and symbolism of significant western American portraits. Whether photographs, bronze busts, or oil paintings, portraits of people from the American West can function as windows into the region’s culture and history. From the famous to the nameless, each face of the West tells a unique story.

Symposium speakers and topics include:

Frank Goodyear

Co-director, Bowdoin College Museum of Art

Standing Before Shoshone Falls: Portraiture in the Photography of the American West

Shirley Reece-Hughes

Associate Curator, Amon Carter Museum of American Art

Lone Star Portraits: Building a Community

Joseph Traugott

Retired Curator of Twentieth-Century Art,

Museum of Fine Arts, New Mexico

Portraying New Mexicans

William Truettner

Curator Emeritus, Smithsonian American Art Museum

Vanderlyn’s Jane McCrea, a Critical Moment in Portraying North American Indians

Registration is required and tickets can be purchased online or by calling 720-913-0130 from 10 am to 5 pm daily.

Take time to explore western American portraits on level 7 of the North Building, level 2 of the Hamilton Building, and in the special exhibition William Matthews: Trespassing, also on level 2 of the Hamilton Building.

Just can’t get enough of portraits?

For another angle on the subject, check out this blog post about portraiture in the Colonial Americas and the 14th annual Mayer Center Symposium.

Image credit: George de Forest Brush, Portrait of an Indian (detail), 1880-1900. Denver Art Museum, The Roath Collection.

Karen Brooks McWhorter is the department assistant in the department of western American art. Karen has been with DAM since 2009, and when visiting the museum, she recommends that visitors don’t miss the special selection of Charles Marion Russell paintings on the seventh floor of the North Building.