Decades: The 1970s

January - Spring 2022
Spring River and Hunter Galleries


It is necessary to occasionally look back to better understand where we are now. Decades: The 1970s is a continuation of the Roswell Museum’s look at artistic output on a ten-year basis reflecting on how artists grappled with the changing times. All works presented in this exhibition are from the museum’s permanent collection.

In Roswell, the 1970s were a period of uncertainty. With the closure of Walker Air Force Base in the late 1960s, economic prospects across the entire Roswell area declined. Simultaneously, the ingenuity and creativity brought about through the creation of the Roswell Artist-in-Residence (RAiR) program in 1967 engendered a significant period of artistic production in the local area. Through RAiR and other programs, the Roswell Museum brought a significant influx of contemporary artists to Roswell despite dwindling financial resources during the entire decade.

Beyond Roswell, the entire world experienced a major economic recession. This and other factors led the US to experience the phenomenon of “stagflation” (where inflation and unemployment increase simultaneously) during the 1970s. The myth of limitless progress was shattered and environmental consciousness increased. Many artworks in this exhibition showcase a variety of artistic depictions of elements of our shared environment.

The 1970s catalyzed sweeping changes relating to the status of women in society. The decade showed a considerable rise in the number of women in leadership positions in governments around the world. Throughout the decade, second-wave feminist movements were active. This exhibition includes a diverse range of artistic approaches to representations of the human figure, particularly women, as well as abstractions of figures from human to spiritual.

Also in this decade, the United States withdrew its military forces from Vietnam. Because of the war in Vietnam and the Watergate scandal leading to the resignation of US president Richard Nixon, trust in government significantly declined. At the same time, the US celebrated the 200th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in 1976. Artistic expressions of both the celebration of and criticism of American values are featured in this exhibition.

Between global conflict, economic stagnation, and public division over civil rights and social norms, many of the dilemmas faced in the 1970s continue to challenge us today. In subject matter, style, and form the works included in Decades: The 1970s show a compelling range of approaches. These artists’ works continue to invite us to reflect not only on the 1970s, but also developments since then and our own present-day life experiences.

Colleen Browning Union Mixer, 1975

Union Mixer, 1975
Colleen Browning
Color Lithograph on Paper 
Gift of Lorillard Kent Corporation

Doris Cross Renaissance (Butterfly), 1971

Doris Cross
Renaissance (Butterfly), 1971
Oil on Canvas
Gift of the Doris Cross Collection