Miles from Nowhere: Collecting Contemporary American Prints in the Margins

Melanie Yazzie, Varied Voices (2008), linocut and screenprint (proof), 57.3 x 41.8 cm. Artist Printmaker/Photographer Research Collection. ©Melanie Yazzie.

There is a part of America that exists miles from nowhere.

It has been called many names: the Empty Quarter, the Margins, the Yonlands, America’s Outback, the Lands Nobody Wanted, and the Last, the Remnant, or the Surviving Frontier … Others call it a forgotten region, but in truth it has never been well known and you can’t forget something you never knew. It has just been ignored.

—Dayton Duncan1

The Artist Printmaker/Photographer Research Collection (AP/RC) at the Museum of Texas Tech University in Lubbock is a youngster in the world of museum print collecting. Beginning in 2006 with about 2,000 prints, the collection now numbers over 10,000 and grows by an average of 1,100 acquisitions each year. Donated principally by artists or their heirs, these holdings consist primarily of original prints, photographs and related archival materials by 20th and 21st century artists rooted in some way in the western United States. The collection strives to represent each artist in depth and, as organizers, we make few (often no) decisions about one artwork from an artist’s oeuvre being more important than another.

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  1. Dayton Duncan, Miles from Nowhere: Tales from America’s Contemporary Frontier (Lincoln/London: University of Nebraska Press, 1993), 1–2. []