Reception Opens New Museum Exhibit: ‘American Dreams’

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By Shea Miller

With the installation of a new exhibit, BYU”s Museum of Art shifts its attention to American portrayals of harmony, luxury and democracy, making the American dream into an artistic reality.

A reception celebrating the new exhibition, “American Dreams: Selected Works from the Museum”s Permanent Collection of Art,” will take place Wednesday, Mar. 1, 2006, and is open to the public. The exhibit features works from several American artists, including works from Maynard Dixon, whose work elicited a recent visit from actress Diane Keaton. The entire exhibit will be held in the Lied Gallery at the MOA.

The permanent exhibition includes 214 works by 96 artists that will be rotated in and out of the exhibit for the next five years. The works are organized into three themes that depict different interpretations of the American dream.

“The former show displayed works chronologically for 11 years, but ”American Dreams” is more of a social and political history,” said Museum Educator Herman du Toit.

The exhibit wasn”t just a museum project. Students and faculty from different departments on campus collaborated and pooled ideas to develop the theme.

“The commonality is that the works are individualistic and diverse,” du Toit said. “This is a result of the American dream.”

In planning the exhibition, du Toit said cognitive dissonance was used to create obvious parodies and dichotomies between paintings.

“A person learns when they can see the stark contrast between two works,” du Toit said.

The first section, “The Dream of Eden,” includes many landscape paintings illustrating America as a new Eden. These harmonic and pristine landscapes are contrasted with modern day photographs depicting a lost Eden, said marketing and communications manager, Christopher Wilson.

The second section, “American Aspirations,” portrays luxury, refinement and leisure reflecting America as the land of opportunity. Opulence and ease are shown in this section with portraits of the upper class, leisure activities and famous entertainers like Marilyn Monroe.

The final section, “Envisioning America,” conveys multiple ideas of Western values, democracy, classical order and Christianity.

The opening reception is from 7 to 9 p.m. and admission is free. A bluegrass band and barbershop quartet will be playing and light refreshments will be served.

(For comments, e-mail Shea Miller at smiller_85@hotmail)

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