Unsettled, Art on the New Frontier


 David Winton, Docent, Palm Springs Museum of Art (March 2019)

When I first heard that I was selected to be a “Specialist” for Unsettled, Art on the New Frontier, I thought, "what have I committed myself to this time?"

Once I had read the catalog I knew this was going to be a docent’s dream.

As a touring docent there was no “right” or “left” way to enter the exhibition. With each turn through a gallery I entered a new theme, a scent or fragrance, ancient pottery, performance art, a story that had not been heard but needed to be told.  For many of the visitors, the exhibit gave them the opportunity to relive or recall how their lives and those of their ancestors were and are still very unsettled.

Unsettled takes you on a journey through some 200 artworks ranging from Pre-Columbian to modern to contemporary by 80 artists from an area geographically described as the “ring of fire.” Works come from Alaska to Chile across the Pacific to Australia and back to the American West. Though stretching across thousands of miles, these regions share many similarities: vast expanses of open land, rich natural resources, diverse indigenous peoples, colonialism, and the ongoing conflicts that inevitably arise when these factors coexist.


Unsettled opened at the Nevada Museum of the Art, traveled to the Anchorage Museum of Art, and is currently at the Palm Springs Museum of Art through the end of April 2019.  The exhibition is comprised of five themes; Shifting Ground, Colliding Cultures, Colonizing Resources, the Sublime Open, and Experimental Diversity.

Cultural Diversity comes in many different shapes, forms, sounds, smells, textures, and both social and political commentary. Unsettled makes connections among the diverse cultures and artistic practices of this super-region by evoking the five senses. Sharing it with visitors has given me an opportunity to expand my own awareness of what cultural diversity means.