Westward Ho – I & II

Westward Ho – I & II, 2016 – 2019, 2 collages: Westward Ho I, 60cm x 79cm/23.5in x 31in; Westward Ho II, 60cm x 79cm/23.5in x 31in, © 2020 Dixon Adair

This pair of collages is meant to provoke re-assessment about how the West was won.

Westward Ho – I, 2016, collage, 60cm x 79cm/23.5in x 31in, © 2020 Dixon Adair


Countless tales, legends, and movies recount how the land’s native peoples were swept to the side as pioneers embraced, and made theirs, the expanse between the oceans, east to west.

A Colt revolver on the left and a highway on the right point upwards toward a teepee.  Multiple views of the Arch of St Louis, Gateway to the West, are interwoven into the central structure of the collage.  One of the St Louis views extends upwards from the famed “Chaps” at Arches National Park. 

Top center, the Sun Dancer evokes the healing powers of the Sun, this atop the Golden Nugget sign which is superimposed on the bell, the nugget being the appeal to the pioneer.  The bell brings liberty to mind and gets repeated in the shadow view in the Pueblo Chapel below. 

In the center, to each side, the eyes of Sitting Bull peer out of a ‘natural bridges’ formation within oxymoronic winged handcuffs.  A death mask with two teepees extending from the eye sockets like raised eyebrows looks at a noose hanging from the bell above.  Forming the nose of the mask is the back of a gunslinger’s head that blends into the San Geronimo Pueblo Chapel in Taos.  A Yaqui deer dancer—often shown reconciling native beliefs with newly introduced Christianity—performs within the bell outline of the chapel. 

Westward Ho – II, 2019, collage, 60cm x 79cm/23.5in x 31in, © 2020 Dixon Adair


The second panel captures more fully the importance of the Railroad to western pioneering expansion.

At the top, below a turquoise necklace, rides a triumphant Roy Rogers astride his faithful horse, Trigger, whose hind quarters are handcuffed hands.  Belles at either side blend into Pueblo habitats astride shimmering railway lines.

Just below Rogers, a modern family photographs a native dance, now relegated to a tourist performance.

In the middle, the portraits of four great native American chieftains provide the foundation for the four presidents carved into Mount Rushmore.

Below, Gene Autry, the famed “Singing Cowboy” blends into an unstoppable locomotive—the crown of his hat, a Hopi maiden.  Above her is a nativized European modeling lingerie. She is caught among the barrel cacti forming ‘smoke’ from the locomotive stack on the right.

Showgirls appear at the bottom in both Part I and Part II of Westward Ho.

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