Cawein Gallery of Art presents: Break Your Pony by Dagny Walton


The Cawein Gallery of Art is proud to unveil its first exhibition for fall 2021 – Break your pony through Dagny walton. The showcase will run until October 7 and is available for a weekday visit from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., or contact Tyler Brumfield, art and design professor and gallery director at to make an appointment .

All guests at campus events are urged to be vaccinated and comply with all campus requirements to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Please visit for the Pacific COVID-19 protocol.

Artist biography:

Dagny Walton was born in Fort Collins, Colorado, a college town at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. They left Colorado to pursue undergraduate studies in Classical Studies at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Their degree mainly focused on mythology and religious practices, an interest they brought to their work on the American West. Since leaving Vancouver, they have lived in Missoula, Montana, where they are pursuing their Masters of Fine Arts. While all of their pieces start out as computer files, they have recently embraced screen printing as a way to bring digital work to life.

Artist statement:

To love the American West is to love a deeply ugly ideal. The glorified story of the westward expansion is racist and bloodstained. The land is beautiful, but destroyed for the good of the extractive industry or the victim of endless forest fires. The myth of the West is a feverish dream. Despite the chaos and the occasional presence of violence in my pieces, I often feel comforted by making them, as if they provided the answers to something I must always have known but never heard out loud. The culture and history of this place need to be ordered, so that a meaning is given to the ruin. I love to inject vestiges of ancient mythology into my pieces – creatures and symbols of millennia of the collective unconscious. The presence of these remains helps me better understand the West by understanding it in terms much older than its own tiny but eventful history.

I also employ the use of new symbols in my work, creating my own kind of modern pantheon for the West. The cowboy is the hero-icon of the West, a symbol of core American values ​​- freedom, tenacity, expansion. His presence is omnipresent here. Western films parade the cowboy as the embodiment of a parchmented border existence. Painters like Charles Marion Russell imagined the West as Edenic, the cowboy acting as an unofficial steward of the land and its creatures. Now cowboys sell us cigarettes and hard liquor at dusty highway gas stations.

I use the versatile and versatile image of the cowboy as the cornerstone of a cultural critique of the American West. I also take our mountains and our deserts, and these become the backdrop to a world of masculine fantasy. In my plays, I present cowboys who cross the line between harshness and brutality, who stage theatrical displays of violence, and who lazily watch the constant and unstoppable destruction of the land we covet.

Nowhere else in the United States is there such a concrete or messy concept of regionalism, any more than there is another region that so fully encompasses the self-taught construction of what the United States is. . The cowboy, the eternal mythological hero of the West, is synonymous with tenacity to the point of cruelty, expansion that turns into greed, and greed that almost guarantees total destruction. Without the cowboy, America as we know it would not exist.


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