CWU News

Wild West Show Photography Exhibit Opens May 26 at CWU’s Sarah Spurgeon Gallery

Photo from Wild West Show

Wild West Show, a Master of Fine Arts exhibition, will be on display at the Sarah Spurgeon Gallery from May 26-June 10.

The Sarah Spurgeon Gallery at Central Washington University will be hosting Wild West Show, a Master of Fine Arts thesis exhibition by Megan Hansen starting next week.

The opening events will take place on Thursday, May 26, beginning with a lecture by Hansen from 4-5 p.m. in Randall Hall, room 117. The talk will be followed by a reception in the Sarah Spurgeon Gallery from 5-7 p.m.

Wild West Show is a photographic body of work that uses appropriation, collage, and tableaux to speak to a collective relationship and understanding of the American West. Hansen collapses the history and myths of Western Americana into imagery that is both a satire and a love letter:

“Wild West Show is work that is personal to me, as someone that has grown up and resided in the Western United States in both rural and urban areas,” the artist said. “But it is also work that I hope will allow anyone to reflect upon their own perceptions and identities.”

Wild West Show photo "A Long Road Ahead"The backdrops in Hansen’s work are a composite of different landscape images, from both her own photographs and those that she found, to create scenes that are believable at first glance but impossible and untrue in reality. They represent the symbolically sublime nature of Western landscape. These collages are then used as backings for sets featuring similarly farcical costumes, props, and scenarios. 

Toy props are stand-ins for the real thing, and a reminder of the pop culture memory of the fantastical West. Costumes are somewhat haphazardly embellished with cheap jewels and fringe, “like a rhinestone cowboy,” yearning for a time period and a heroic glory that is impossible to reach.

The exhibition will remain on view through June 10. 

Sarah Spurgeon Gallery is located in Randall Hall on the Ellensburg campus and is open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and on Saturdays from 1-5 p.m. The gallery is closed on Sundays and will be closed on Monday, May 30, for Memorial Day.

Media Contact: Dawn Alford, Department of Public Affairs,, 509-963-1484