FORT WORTH, TEXAS (April 28, 2014) – National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame – the only museum in the world dedicated to honoring women of the American West who have displayed extraordinary courage in their trailblazing efforts – is pleased to welcome back a temporary exhibit by 1995 National Cowgirl Hall of Fame Honoree Barbara Van Cleve entitled “Hard Twist: Western Ranch Women.” The exhibit of over 60 stunning black and white photographs depicting the tough and resilient side of ranch women of the American West will be available for public viewing May 15 in the Museum’s temporary exhibit hall.
The exhibit features photos of 29 ranch women, including five National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame Honorees - Jan Youren, Ruby Gobble, Gretchen Sammis, Bobby Brooks Kramer, and Linda Mitchell Davis. Visitors will be able to enjoy a guided tour of the exhibit using mobile devices, and hear the remarkable stories behind several of the photographs directly from Van Cleve.
Van Cleve’s mother inspired the exhibit and indentified the lack of published photographs of women ranchers. Van Cleve spent much of 1986-1994 traveling the Rocky Mountain West on horseback gathering images and interviews from women of the West in their natural elements – out on the range, ranch, or at rodeos. From her travels, she created the book titled “Hard Twist: Western Ranch Women” in 1995, from which the exhibition was created. The term “Hard Twist” refers to the old Manila hemp lariat rope that is tightly twisted. Van Cleve recognized that the term can also refer to a small, compact, physically strong person that rarely breaks – much like women of the West.
“We are thrilled to have Barbara Van Cleve’s ‘Hard Twist’ exhibit featured at the Museum,” said Dr. Diana Vela, National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame Associate Executive Director, Exhibits and Education. “The photographs of ranch women, during ordinary moments in their day, are really quite extraordinary in their ability to capture personal moments in the midst of some rather difficult ranch tasks.”
Van Cleve is nationally known for her photographs of western landscapes, ranchers, cowboys and cattle women. Her heritage is rich with firsthand experience of the cowgirl life. She grew up on her family’s ranch, the Lazy K Bar, founded in 1880 in the Crazy Mountains of Montana. Her first camera was a “Brownie Box,” given to her at age 11 along with a developing kit, and her childhood was spent working and experiencing life on the ranch in the American West and cultivating her interest in photography. She taught English Literature and Photography at DePaul University in Chicago, and then became the youngest Dean of Women in the United States. She retired from academia in 1980 to pursue photography full time and had her first major exhibition in the fall of 1985. Her work is in public and private collections in the United States as well as internationally.
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About the National Cowgirl Museum & Hall of Fame
The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame honors and celebrates women, past and present, whose lives exemplify the courage, resilience, and independence that helped shape the American West, and fosters an appreciation of the ideals and spirit of self-reliance they inspire. The Hall of Fame’s purpose is twofold: to preserve the history and impact of western women living from the mid-1800s to present day, and to foster an appreciation for their ideals and spirit of self-reliance. These women are the legacy of legends — artists and writers, champions and competitive performers, entertainers, ranchers (stewards of land and livestock), trailblazers and pioneers. The Museum is considered an invaluable national educational resource for its exhibits, research library, rare photograph collection, and award-winning distance-learning programs for grades K-12 and adults.
Located at 1720 Gendy Street, Fort Worth, Texas 76107, the Cowgirl is open Monday (Memorial Day to Labor Day) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is $8 for children ages 3 to 12 and senior citizens (60+) and $10 for adults (ages 13+). For more information, please visit www.cowgirl.net or call 817-476-FAME (3263).