Mary Hall: Madsen’s artwork serves to foster conversation

Published: 12/7/2021 2:32:54 PM
Modified: 12/7/2021 2:32:26 PM

I have read that, in coming to America, European settlers marveled at the beauty of the forests they found here. The immigrants presumed this was just how things grew when, in fact, the land was being carefully tended by Native people, people whose culture and traditions the newcomers failed to recognize as having enduring value. Such an inability to see what was before them was a failing on the part of the Puritans in New England, but has also been a failure of our nation’s entire immigrant project.

In viewing the Gazette’s image of Doris Madsen’s print (“Arts Council working on apology for Biennial,” Nov. 12), I should think the print reflects the perspective of newcomers who created their own in-group. The immigrants won out over those who were already here: The new arrivals from Europe succeeded in taking over things; and it tends to be the victors in any conflict who write history.

I would understand Madsen’s print as acknowledging what is dominant in our national story while gently showing the cultural myopia of that narrative. I consider Madsen’s expression to be art that can help to open the eyes of those who find it hard to see. I am sad that some have devalued her contribution that, I think, can serve to foster conversations that are much-needed and long overdue.

Mary Hall

South Hadley


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