Native American Craft Tradition in a Contemporary World

Exhibition Itinerary, Sponsors & Information

Kentucky Art and Craft Gallery
Louisville, KY
August 21 - October 31, 1998

Ohio Craft Museum
Columbus, OH
November 22, 1998 - January 21, 1999

Yakama Nation Cultural Heritage Center and Museum
Yakima, WA
May 15 - July 17, 1999

American Craft Museum
New York, NY
August 19 - October 10, 1999

The exhibition and its national tour are sponsored by
Philip Morris Companies Inc.

Exhibit Information

One of the most comprehensive survey exhibitions ever devoted to contemporary Native American craft opened at the Kentucky Art and Craft Foundation on August 21, 1998. Head, Heart and Hands: Native American Craft Traditions in a Contemporary World celebrates the rich variety of work being produced by contemporary Native American craft artists, and explores how these artists are incorporating their tribal traditions into modern artistic visions. Following its presentation in Louisville, the exhibition will travel to museums in Ohio, New York and Washington State. The exhibition and its national tour are sponsored by Philip Morris Companies Inc.

Organized by the Kentucky Art and Craft Gallery and curated by Brion Clinkingbeard, Curator/Director of Exhibitions, Kentucky Art and Craft Foundation, Head, Heart and Hands features over 50 works in a wide range of craft media, including pottery, painting, sculpture, jewelry, carving, glass blowing and weaving. The exhibition illustrates the innovative ways in which Native American artists are combining the techniques, forms and imagery of their ancestors with contemporary art trends, influences and materials to create a unique body of work.

With over 500 Native American tribes in the United States, there are many diverse personalities, cultures, and traditions in the Native American experience. Head, Heart and Hands includes works by artists from over 10 tribes, including Hopi potter and sculptor Al Q÷yawayma, Isleta glass blower Tony Jojola, Cochiti Pueblo potter Diego Romero, Navajo jeweler Harvey Begay, Choctaw bead worker Marcus Amerman, and Navajo/Seminole fiber artist Margaret Wood, among others.

"Every North American tribe has its own traditions, has evolved its own ceremonial and ritual symbolism, and uses the natural resources of its particular region," said Brion Clinkingbeard. "Just as one nation cannot be representative of all others, the work of any one artist cannot speak for an entire people. Head, Heart and Hands features the very best of contemporary Native American artists, whose personal artistic visions reflect their individual creative voices and diverse cultural experiences, yet share a common history."

"Philip Morris is proud to sponsor this unique and important exhibition throughout its national tour, and we are pleased to be working with the Ohio Craft Museum in its presentation of this vibrant show," said Stephanie French, vice president, corporate contributions and cultural programs, for Philip Morris Companies Inc."We salute the artists in Head, Heart and Hands whose contributions to the field of craft have shown us that there is no one primary aesthetic, material or method, but a plethora of unique ideas, styles and points of view and just as many ways to express them."

In many Native American cultures, there exist myths about the origins of basket making, weaving, pottery and other craft traditions. An underlying theme in many of these myths is that the idea, the use and the form for the craft came to an artist in a vision. The vision stipulated everything about the craft, including what material to use and where the material could be found, and the seer then shared this knowledge with the rest of the tribe, thus originating a craft tradition. Today, through modern influences and materials, these traditions have evolved and been adapted, yet the foundation for ideas and forms embodied in the various craft traditions remains deeply rooted in the Native American cultural history.

This idea is universally evidenced in the artists' work featured in Head, Heart and Hands. Fiber artist Margaret Wood draws upon her Navajo/Seminole heritage to create wall hangings, quilts, and clothing which address Native American tradition, gender roles and history. Glass artist Preston Singletary blends Italian glass blowing and Swedish design with Tlingit clan forms and crest patterns. Choctaw Marcus Amerman employs a strong tradition of bead work from the Columbia Plateau and Plains people to create modern images of Brooke Shields and the space shuttle. As part of the Coyote Clan, whose ancient tribal role is to make changes in the world, Hopi sculptor Al QyawaymaÝs creations reflect the aesthetic influences of the southwest environment and values passed down through his family. Potter Diego Romero continues the legacy of the prehistoric Mimbres culture through his art, placing Mimbres warriors in a twentieth century context, such as on the Los Angeles freeway.

Opening events will take place on November 19 and November 22 at the Museum and will be highlighted by a traditional ceremonial blessing performed by Lakota Sioux Gilly Running, Coyote and Northern-style dances, and drumming by the Dakota Travelers. As part of the celebration of the opening, a lecture entitled "The Tafoya-Lonewolf Tradition of Pueblo Pottery Making'" will be presented by Rosemary Apple Blossom Lonewolf, whose work is featured in the exhibition, on November 19 from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. Additional workshops are also being planned.

A fully illustrated catalog with essays by Brion Clinkingbeard and artist Truman Lowe is available. The catalogue will explore the important and unique themes that make up the exhibition, and will seek to identify the vast parameters that define Native American craft, as well as exploring its long history. In addition, detailed profiles of each of the featured artists will be included.

In conjunction with Head, Heart and Hands, the Museum will also be exhibiting "The Hope Series," a set of four original blankets commemorating specific Native American tribes. Commissioned by the American Indian College Fund, which supports Native American college students nationwide, the blankets were designed by Arthur Almighty, George Hunt, Jr., Tony Abeyta, as well as Wendy Ponca, whose work is also included in Head, Heart and Hands. A numbered limited edition of 1,200 blankets based on each design will be produced by Pendleton Woolen Mills, and all proceeds will go to the Fund. Philip Morris Companies Inc. has supported the American Indian College Fund since 1991 and is proud to be a part of this unique collaboration.

The cultural program of Philip Morris Companies Inc. focuses on contemporary and multi-cultural visual and performing arts, and is among the leading corporate arts support programs in the world. The qualities that guide the successful growth of its businesses ˝ innovation, creativity and diversity ˝ have also served as the cornerstone of Philip Morris' cultural program for forty years.

The Philip Morris family of companies is the world's largest producer and marketer of consumer packaged goods. Its brands include: Marlboro; Kraft; L&M; Miller; Oscar Mayer; Jacobs; Maxwell House; and Post. Philip Morris Companies Inc. has five principal operating companies: Kraft Foods, Inc. (comprising Kraft Foods North America and Kraft Foods International); Miller Brewing Company; Philip Morris International Inc.; Philip Morris Incorporated (PM USA); and Philip Morris Capital Corporation.

Additional funding for the Columbus presentation of Head, Heart and Hands has been provided by the Ohio Arts Council, The Columbus Foundation, and the Greater Columbus Arts Council.

The Ohio Craft Museum opened in 1993. It is operated by Ohio Designer Craftsmen, which was established in 1963 to encourage understanding, awareness and appreciation of fine craft, its creators and its significant contribution to contemporary society. The Museum is located at 1665 West Fifth Avenue, Columbus, OH, and is open Monday through Friday, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, and Sunday, 1:00 to 5:00 pm.

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