The American Silverscape: Art, Land, and Extraction, 1848-1905


ACLS Fellowship Program


Art History


“The American Silverscape: Art, Land, and Extraction, 1848-1905” explores how nineteenth-century silver artworks became flashpoints in debates over land use, natural resources, and Indigenous sovereignty in the United States, issues that persist into the present. The book establishes the “silverscape” as a material and political framework that holds together an imperial gaze over land targeted for extraction and silver’s capacity to disrupt nationalist imagery while amplifying Indigenous priorities and more-than-human relations. Extending beyond the two-dimensional media of landscape painting, print, and photography, this study resituates a range of silver artworks—presentation vases, exposition monuments, peace medals, soup tureens, and squash blossom necklaces—within place-based histories of extraction to demonstrate how objects relayed Indigenous protest to land seizure. Short essays on contemporary artworks between historical chapters reveal the legacies of extraction that extend far beyond silver’s decorative forms. By focusing on intersecting histories of aesthetics, ecologies, politics, and value, “The American Silverscape” proposes an art history particular to the mineral foundations of the American West.