Mary and Harold Colton, Founders of the Museum of Northern Arizona

Scholar and historian Betsy Fahlman describes the founding of the Museum of Northern Arizona.

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The early resident artist community of Arizona was comprised mostly of talented and adventurous women, and Mary-Russell Ferrell Colton (1889-1971) was a leading member of this group. Trained at the Philadelphia School of Design for Women, she first visited Arizona in 1912 on her honeymoon with University of Pennsylvania zoologist Harold Colton, making her a true Centennial artist. She fell in love with the rugged beauties of the American West, and the couple decided to settle permanently in Flagstaff in 1926. In 1928 they founded the Museum of Northern Arizona, which remains significant cultural legacy. A talented landscape painter, Colton was inspired by the Colorado Plateau producing a series of colorful canvases conveying both the beauty of the region and her deep emotional connection to the place that had become her home. As curator of art and ethnology at the Museum, she established annual exhibitions of Hopi (1930) and Navajo (1936) art that continue to this day.

-Bio courtesy of Betsy Fahlman

Upcoming Exhibits Mary-Russell Ferrell Colton: Artist and Advocate in Early Arizona, will be published by the Museum of Northern Arizona (MNA) as a special issue of Plateau, Vol. 7, No 2 (Summer 2012), an exhibit catalog issue that will contain essays by Betsy Fahlman (Arizona State University), Alan Petersen (MNA), and James W. Burns (Desert Caballeros Western Museum). The exhibit opens in Flagstaff at the Museum of Northern Arizona, running from 17 June-28 October 2012. It then travels to Wickenburg to the Desert Caballeros Western Museum (14 December 2012-3 March 2013). It may be ordered from the MNA bookstore: http://www.musnaz.org/shops/index.shtml.

 

 

Additional Audio: Betsy Fahlman describes the opportunities the west offered women of the early 20th century.

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Additional Audio: Betsy Fahlman describes Mary Russell Ferrell Colton, landscape artist.

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MRFC Portrait by Isabel Branson Cartwright, Courtesy of the Museum of Northern Arizona, (C868)

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"In the Valley of the Painted Hills" - Mary Russell Ferrell Colton, 1928

Image courtesy of Museum of Northern Arizona (C1011)

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"Navajo Shepherdess" - Mary Russell Ferrell Colton, 1918

Image courtesy of Museum of Northern Arizona (C869)

27-portrait"In the Valley of the Painted Hills" - Mary Russell Ferrell Colton, 1928"Navajo Shepherdess" - Mary Russell Ferrell Colton, 1918

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