Public Lands, Private Hands: Exploration and Exploitation of the American West

May 6, 2019Jun 9, 2019


Event Description

The multi-site exhibition “Public Lands, Private Hands: An Exhibition Depicting the Exploration and Exploitation of the American West” will be open Monday, May 6, through Monday, May 13, in the Lewis Arts Complex CoLab and the Princeton University Art Museum Works on Paper Study Room. The exhibition will continue to be open at the art museum on weekends through June 9.

** Public events on May 8 and May 9 will feature Native American leaders and community activists addressing the preservation of sacred lands and the return of Native American artifacts.

The exhibition includes photographs drawn from Princeton’s collections, works by Princeton undergraduate students, and original photographs by Fazal Sheikh, the Currie C. and Thomas A. Barron Visiting Professor in the Environment and the Humanities in the Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI).

The CoLab installation will feature Sheikh’s photographs documenting the ruination of the Utah landscape by uranium mining, oil and gas extraction, and the militarization of the desert. Artworks by Princeton students in Sheikh’s Spring 2019 environmental studies course, “Exposure: The Storied Landscape of Bears Ears National Monument and America’s Public Lands,” will expose the mythologies of preservation politics and interrogate histories of displacement and return. Also on display will be photographs drawn from the University’s collections that document Native American villages across the Southwest, railroad and mining projects, and mission schools.

At the art museum, photographs of missionaries and miners will serve as a backdrop to a selection of Indigenous belongings displaced by the first generation of European pilgrims, ambient sound recorded in the Utah desert, and a recorded testimony by Navajo spiritual leader Jonah Yellowman, who was instrumental in the 2016 creation of Bears Ears National Monument by President Barack Obama.

Princeton Environmental Institute