Mary Virginia Carson

Pioneer in Capturing Rock Art with Watercolors

979-8-21838-954-3 Hardcover (Printed Case)
8.62 x 10.7 x 0 in
104 pp. 62 color, 21 b&w illus. Index.
Pub Date: 10/15/2024
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  • Hardcover (Printed Case) $39.95

In 1931, at age 25, Witte Museum Artist Mary Virginia Carson became entranced by the complexity, beauty, and allure of ancient murals in the Lower Pecos Canyonlands, originally painted from more than 5,000 years ago until historic times. As witnessed in this book, the energetic and sometimes sumptuous watercolors show a passion that Carson reveals not only in her artistic work but also in her field notes about each rock art site. 

Carson joined a summer-long Witte Museum expedition to sketch the images and murals created by the first people of what is now called West Texas. Carson sat on hot boulders in the blazing sun to render images before her on watercolor paper with as much fidelity as possible. Although many artists, archeologists and scientists have captured and analyzed the images since then, most recently with digital technology, each scientist begins the work with an acknowledgment of Carson as the first artist to provide public access to these cosmologically complex murals, some the most nuanced in the world. 

The book includes 64 watercolor plates by Carson, as well as essays by Witte President Emeritus Marise McDermott and Witte Curator of Archeology Harry Shafer.

Published by The Witte Museum