Cover of Montana Modernists

Already a Montana State Book Award honor selection, Montana Modernists: Shifting Perceptions of Western Art written by Michele Corriel and published by Washington State University Press, is a finalist for two additional book awards, the 2023 High Plains Book Award in Art & Photography, and the 2023 Big Sky Award. Held in conjunction with the High Plains BookFest, the High Plains Book Awards recognize regional authors and/or literary works in a variety of categories that examine and reflect life on the High Plains. Introduced in 2019, the Big Sky Award is a special prize for the overall best book by a Montana author. Winners for all Book Awards will be announced at an awards event to be held in October 2023 in Billings, Montana. Each winner will receive $500 and a commemorative plaque.

The first book fully devoted to the topic, Montana Modernists presents stunning artwork and illuminates a little-known art movement. For many, Charles M. Russell’s paintings epitomize life in the West. But in twentieth-century postwar Montana, an avant-garde art movement—Montana Modernism—brewed. Its pioneers—ranchers, teachers, and professors Jessie Wilber, Frances Senska, Bill Stockton, Isabelle Johnson, Robert DeWeese, and Gennie DeWeese—created a community and pedagogy where, in stark contrast to stereotypical romanticized western art and frontier history themes, modernist ideas and art flourished, expanding traditional definitions of Western art.

Michele Corriel holds a Master’s in Art History and a PhD in American Studies/American Art from Montana State University, Bozeman. She has been an art writer for the last 17 years and is on the National Advisory Board for the Bozeman Art Museum.

Montana Modernists is full color, paperback, 10″ x 8″, 180 pages, and lists for $32.95. It is available through bookstores nationwide, direct from WSU Press online at or by phone at 800-354-7360. A nonprofit academic publisher associated with Washington State University in Pullman, Washington, WSU Press concentrates on telling unique, focused stories of the Northwest.