Wednesday, December 24, 2014

THE PLAINS INDIANS EXHIBIT: part 1

At the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, which is where Mom works, there is a special exhibit going on.  It is called The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky.  This exhibit started in September, and the last day will be Sunday, January 11, 2015.  So if you ever have had the slightest idea that you might want to see this exhibit, you should hurry over to the gallery before then, or else you will be too late.

There are a bunch of tipis on the grounds of the Nelson,
but nobody is allowed to live in them, not even Indians.
One real live Indian man painted this tipi, though.
Mom has spent a lot of time in this exhibit because she is still a temporary, part-time employee who was hired for the exhibit.  Before that, she was hired for two other exhibits, and then her boss let her keep working some of the time between exhibits.

A tipi and a giant shuttlecock

Anyway, when Mom has to look at the same stuff for hours and days on end, sometimes she entertains herself by taking pictures of it.  This is how we happened to end up with a bunch of pictures of the Plains Indians exhibit.  So I am now going to show you some of these pictures, and it will be sort of like advertising the exhibit, and I think the gallery will be so grateful that they will send me a whole bunch of money because I did this for them!

Buffalo effigy, ca. 1400-1700, green quartzite.
Made by a Woods Cree artist, Alberta Canada.

There are lots of images of bison in the exhibit because this animal was very important to the Indians who lived on the plains.  They ate bison meat and made clothing and robes out of the hides.  At first, it was hard for the Indians to hunt bison, but after they got horses, hunting was lots easier.


Redhorn, carved from bauxite, 1100-1200.
Found at Spiro Mound, Le Flore County, Oklahoma
Some of the pieces in the exhibit are very, very old, like the buffalo effigy I already showed you.  An even older piece is this pipe, which has a bowl for tobacco in the back.  It is the image of a mythical warrior called Redhorn.  People have been telling about his deeds since ancient times.  Another name for Redhorn was "He Who Wears Human Heads in His Ears."  I'm not sure why anyone would do such a thing, but if you're a famous warrior, maybe you don't have to explain yourself.



This figure is not as old.  It is from the Caddoan culture, maybe in the 18th century. The man, who is carved from wood, holds a bag of tobacco.



There are several buffalo robes in the exhibit which the early French traders got from the Indians.  These robes got taken back to France or other places in Europe, and they have not been seen in this country since then.


Back in those days, the Indians did not have paper to draw on, so they drew on animal skins.  Men drew all the pictures with people and horses in them.  These pictures were usually about war or hunting.  Women drew geometrical designs.



Later on, things changed.  This quilt was made in 1915 by one or more women.  It has all kinds of figures appliquéd on a black background.  Many of the figures are doing everyday things, such as cooking or dancing or hunting small game.


The best part of all about the quilt is that there are lots of dogs in it!  The dogs, like the people, are doing ordinary things such as waiting by the cooking pot for the food to finish cooking.


Also, there are horses, which were probably almost as important to the Indians as the dogs were!

Okay, that's all for now.  I will put the rest of Mom's pictures in my blog very soon for your viewing pleasure.

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