The art of storytelling featured in exhibition
'Wondrous Works: Contemporary Art by Native American Women'
SANTA FE, N.M. -- Beaded high-tops and a weaving called "September 11,
2001" are among the diverse story-laden pieces that will be on display at
the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture. "Wondrous Works: Contemporary Art by
Native American Women" highlights dynamic works of wonder by American
Indian women artists who bring their stories and creativity to life in a
variety of media.
The opening reception, free to New Mexico residents, will be held Feb. 12,
from 1 -- 4 p.m. The exhibition will be on view through Jan. 14, 2007.
Whether woven into tapestries and baskets or beaded on a variety of
materials, the stories told through the pieces provide graphic examples of
reservation life and history. Combining utility with beauty, through their
stitches and designs, these women express their unique heritage and
traditions that connect them to the places they come from. While several
works fall within the ongoing traditions important to the communities,
other pieces express the creative imagination of the artist in brilliant
colors and designs.
In American Indian culture, beadwork has been revered as both ornamental
and sacred. It is also an important means of cultural and artistic
expression. The extraordinary beadwork by Kiowa artist Teri Greeves
continues this expression through the use of contemporary materials. Famous
for her beadwork on a variety of objects, the exhibit features "Indian
Parade Umbrella," which won Best of Show at the 1999 Santa Fe Indian
Market. Each beaded panel on tanned deer hide includes people she grew up
with and watched at Indian parades. This is the first time this piece has
been in a public exhibition.
Recently acquired by the museum, Greeves's "Kiowa Ceremonial Dance: A
Beaded Book" will also be on view, along with the complete story that goes
with it. The six-page book of beaded designs on tanned deer hide provides a
glimpse into a series of ceremonial dances, including the Kiowa Feather
Dance and the Sun Dance. Other beaded depictions include the Kiowa Black
Leggings Society Dance, which is made up of Kiowa veterans and active-duty
servicemen, and the Kiowa Scalp Dance, in which Kiowa women dance in honor
of a relative who has fought in a war.
On a more serious note, visitors will have the opportunity to contemplate
two large Navajo basketry trays by Peggy Rock Black that illustrate a
painful time in the history of the Navajo: The Long Walk and The Coming
Home. The Navajos were removed from their homes in Arizona in 1864 and
forced to travel by foot more than 300 miles into eastern New Mexico. Upon
their arrival, the U.S. government incarcerated in excess of 9,000 Navajos
and 400 Mescalero Apaches and attempted to forcibly convert these
semi-nomadic people into farmers. The experiment failed miserably and in
1868, the Navajo were released to return to a reservation that had been
established for them in what is now part of northwestern New Mexico,
eastern Arizona and southern Utah.
Several Navajo tapestry weavings include scenes of sheep, hogans,
mountains, trains and trucks. A weaving by TahNibaa Naat'aanii tells the
story of the Navajo Code Talkers from the time they left the reservation to
their return. The weaving includes colorful imagery that depicts
reservation life, boot camp, palm trees and a ship in the Pacific Theater.
A large coiled basket by Sally Black also illustrates the importance of the
Navajo code talkers during World War II.
Examples of ongoing traditions are represented as well, such as embroidered
kilts and finger-woven sashes worn during pueblo social and ceremonial
dances. Recent works by well-known artists Bea Duran of Tesuque Pueblo and
Ramoncita Sandoval of Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo (San Juan) remind us of how
connected these women are to their communities and the traditions that make
them unique in a world that is becoming increasingly homogenized.
More than 30 works by 20 different contemporary Native women artists are
presented in this exhibition, which includes several works from the Museum
of Indian Arts and Culture's permanent collection, as well as borrowed
pieces from the artists, the School of American Research and private
collections. The opening will include a reception, artist demonstrations, a
performance by the San Juan Tewa Women's Choir, storytelling, puppet shows
and hands-on activities for children.
For more information call (505) 476-1269 or visit www.miaclab.org.
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