Pantheon of the American West

The American West portrayed in popular culture is a romanticized image of what history proves was a place of complexity and nuanced reality. An unspoiled landscape beckoned adventurous souls. Some travelers struck it rich in oil, gold or railroads, creating legendary extravagance. Some pilgrims found livelihoods in toil and labor. Others were adjacent to both, taking advantage of life on the edge of civility. The history of the American West remains tangible in the relationships and landscape of today. Elevating these historic personalities to levels of gods and goddesses, the Pantheon of the American West beckons reflection on how we see ourselves in the complex narrative of life. These characters embrace light and dark, exploring symbiosis in contrasting energies. They ask, can we embrace opposing characteristics? The multiplicity of being American creates complex identities. Embracing our complexity allows for deeper understanding and discovery of ourselves as characters developing within our own story. 

man wearing gold ring

Baron

The baron is forward thinking and innovative with an insatiable, acquisitive spirit. The baron always has a goal. He is curious and capable of cruelty. He does not suffer a fool. He cares for strength and domination, unashamed of using others to achieve his goals. The baron is a decider of fates, using power to influence and command. He represents success achieved through calculated action. There is conflict between the good he brings to society and the destructive cost of innovation. He is reviled and revered. His path is one of struggle and creation.

Corn Maiden

The corn maiden is a needy nourisher, a symbol of health and balance when duly cared for. She is a fertile sustainer of life, stewarding and creating abundance through her fertility, innovation and nurturing spirit. She is a caretaker with the all knowing wisdom of a medicine woman. She requires much tending to, otherwise her generosity will retreat. Her power is her radiant, sensual beauty. Beholding her alone brings bliss and balance. Her motivation for giving is her deep understanding of symbiotic relationships. She requires cultivating and tending to, generously rewarding with nourishment and satisfaction. 

Cowboy

The cowboy is a tender caretaker. He represents steadiness and a hardworking, nurturing spirit. Considered weak by more ambitious types, he is the god of Everyman, humble in character, strong in body and steady in mind. He is willing to suffer for the care of others. Working alone, and often unappreciated, the cowboy creates health for humans, animals and the land. Lonely and quietly, he cares for many. His power is undervalued. His skills ensure the natural state of the earth is balanced. His skills are timeless and priceless. 

woman wearing gold earrings and rings

Outlaw

The Outlaw embodies cunning power. She is rugged, rough and a rescuer of the outcast. A woman of the night herself, and caretaker of other night walkers. Darkness has no power over her, in fact she exudes a darkness which makes her feared by many. As a lady of the night she is unpredictable and untrustworthy but she is also very calculating and thoughtful. She uses darkness as protection for herself and allies. Her power is in her ability to deceive, which she uses as a tool to gain what she needs. The Outlaw understands the outcast, having been despised and cast aside herself; she understands pain and does not care for pleasantries unless they serve her purposes. She has her own moral guidance informed by hardship. Her power is in her subtlety and ability to navigate power for her own gain.

Coyote

The coyote lives between. Wiley and mysterious, an androgynous character uncommitted to anyone. Unknown is where this creature resides, what language it speaks, what loyalty it has. As a shadow, its identity is hidden. Feared by some for its cunning, respected by others for its ability to survive and find possibility. The coyote is always on the move and knows the land with instinct. Credit for brave deeds is the last thing the coyote desires. If it has aided a community it will quickly drift away. The coyote is quiet, smart and calculating.

"Exploring identity, this project is an opportunity to express my affection for and my struggles with my home. The American West is diverse and challenging to capture and impossible to fully understand, just like ourselves."

-Rachel Rose