The Writer's Road draws from The Wittliff's major archive of Sam Shepard, which the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and Academy Award-nominated actor began donating to the Wittliff in 1992.
The Writer's Road uses journals, correspondence, photographs, interviews, manuscripts, and published works to map the path of Shepard's career: from his days as a young, rebellious one-act off-Broadway playwright to his reinvention as master of the complex family drama with plays like Curse of the Starving Class, Buried Child, and True West. Shepard reveals his states of mind in hand-written notes and letters along the way, from his spiritual sojourns in England in the early 1970s to his unexpected fame as a Hollywood star in the 1980s. Other materials show the roles of important people in Shepard's life, including actress O-Lan Jones, Bob Dylan, and Jessica Lange.
Lending depth and intimacy to the exhibition are numerous items from a significant archive recently acquired by The Wittliff: the Sam Shepard and Johnny Dark Collection. This holding contains nearly 300 letters exchanged over the years between Shepard and his longtime close friend, as well as hundreds of candid photographs and other materials that open a larger window into Shepard's personal life.
The Shepard/Dark Collection has already inspired an award-winning documentary film, Shepard and Dark, as well as the newest book in The Wittliff's Southwestern Writers Collection Series, Two Prospectors: The Letters of Sam Shepard and Johnny Dark, edited by Chad Hammett.
The Writer's Road was co-curated by Chad Hammett of Texas State's English Department and Steve Davis of The Wittliff Collections. The exhibition runs through February 14, 2014.
This website includes an interactive online version of the exhibition.