New Ground counters dominant 19th- and 20th-century narratives, which typically cast the American West as a masculine place of staged romance or rugged conquest. Through the works of potter Maria Martinez (ca. 1887–1980) and photographer Laura Gilpin (1891–1979), this exhibition illuminates the midcentury Southwest as a nuanced and dynamic environment in which these two women created art that embodied a distinctively modern aesthetic.
Martinez’s strikingly modern-looking vessels grew out of ancient Pueblo artistic traditions, which she and her husband, Julian, revived. Examples of Martinez’s pottery are found in public and private collections across the globe. Her work inspired generations of artists, including her own family, several of whom still produce pottery at the San Ildefonso Pueblo.
Gilpin, hailed during her lifetime as the “grand dame of American photography,” is best known for her documentary prints, which include aerial landscapes and intimate portraits. Over six decades, Gilpin documented the Southwest and its people, experimenting with a variety of photographic techniques and styles to capture her own connection to the region.
Drawn predominantly from the Eugene B. Adkins Collection at the Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, and the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma, Norman, New Ground features 26 significant works of pottery by Martinez and 48 platinum, gelatin silver, and color print photographs by Gilpin.
New Ground is organized by the Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, Oklahoma. Initial support for the exhibition was provided by Philbrook Exhibition Series Sponsors (2011–2013), in particular the Raymond and Bessie Kravis Foundation.
The presentation of New Ground at NMWA is made possible by the generous support of the Judith A. Finkelstein Exhibition Fund.