Nancy Newberry

Location: Dallas, Texas, United States

These Character Studies are a chapter from the series Smoke Bombs and Border Crossings, a contemporary Spaghetti Western staged at the Texas–Mexico Border.

Influenced by my Mother’s Italian heritage and my Texas upbringing, Smoke Bombs and Border Crossings draws inspiration from classic Spaghetti Western movies, the 1960’s subgenre of Italian Western films made famous by director Sergio Leone. Photographed in both Texas and Mexico, this project is a survey of my own backyard merging documentary portrayals with dreamlike creations to investigate notions of nationalism and community.

I have always been interested in the American archetype, the Wild West and how its self-image is represented in television, movies and interpreted in the US and by other cultures. Simply telling people I am from Texas begins a discourse laced with stereotypes made famous by the genre.

Spaghetti Westerns famously appropriated, reinterpreted and questioned its own and Western mythologies. Reflecting cultural and political conditions of post war Europe, the genre developed into a repository for issues concerning National Identity on both sides of the Atlantic. I am intrigued by the present-day use of ‘the Wild West’ to either approve of or to disparage the new frontier, and I am curious in what it could say about the current state of the American myth.

With an emphasis on costume and uniform, the work reflects on the role of fantasy in the current post-truth era, as subjects act out characters as part of a group or a team. The project integrates my ongoing fascination with regalia and continues my exploration of self-representation and cultural identity at large.

Throughout the project, Mexican Charros, American Cowboys and Military Soldiers become suspended in a sense of preparedness at the Texas Mexico Border. A territory of blended nationalities, legendary historical battles, contested land, and a very famous wall. This is the true Wild West.

Character Study 01

Character Study 02

Character Study 03

Character Study 04

Character Study 04

Character Study 06

Character Study 07

Character Study 08

Character Study 09

Character Study 10

Character Study 01

Character Study 02

Character Study 03

Character Study 04

Character Study 04

Character Study 06

Character Study 07

Character Study 08

Character Study 09

Character Study 10