Charlotte Niel Photography
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Myths in the Western Landscape

There are many sides to “how the West was won.”  Often the winner is the one who writes history. 

This project reimagines an “American West” depicted by artists of the time acknowledging (not condoning) the truths, legends and omissions in their work. Throughout time, art has been used successfully as propoganda tool hiding ugly truths.  For those documenting the American West, the prejudices of the day (including those of the artists), the desire to please editors and the need to secure government protection/funding at times encouraged distortions and a blind eye or nod to th cultural dominance, loss, and displacement within the frontier experience.  The ensuing cult of the rugged cowboy, beliefs in "Indian" inferiority, the assumed bravery of the US Calvary , the fortitude and innocence of Christian settlers and the belief that the "ends justify the means" has deep roots in the American psyche.

I am not passing judgement on other artist's or my interpretation of a different reality. I too am guilty of creating my own fictions by choice of landscapes and artwork.  I leave it to the viewer to decide what they want to believe with the understanding that not all that is made visible is true or absolute.  

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