Saturday, October 16, 2021

Line and shape in Native American Art

This week a road took me to Cooperstown where I visited Fenimore Art Museum. One of  current exhibits there is Elegant Line/Powerful Shape: Elements of Native American Art. As always - looking for geometry in all its various beautiful forms - I found these objects as true expressions of meanings through geometric elements. Native American artists communicate with their audiences visually - using variety of materials to create lines, shapes, colors to convey the beauty of the world.

On this Dance Kilt (ca 1900-1915, New Mexico)  the zigzag line forms a body of a supernatural being Avanyu, or Plummed Serpent, representing a lightening bolt, V lines inside represents a rainbow. Along the bottom of this kilt is a line of tin cones, that sounds like falling rain while dancing.

This birchbark Wigwam Model (ca 1847-1852, Anishinaabe, Ontario) is decorated with stylized floral and geometric motif made by series of lines.

Against a red and green wool white glass beads create two types of lines in this finger woven Sash (ca 1780-1830, Iroquois, Great Lake region). This type of sash was often worn around the waist to secure a coat or worn across the chest to signify high status.

To make this Belt (ca 1800, probably Manitoba Ojibwa) quills were flattened and then folded between threads on a bow-loom to create a line design.

Olla baskets were the most important type of container for the Yavapai as they are sturdy and lightweight. On this Olla Basket (ca 1915-1920, Yavapai, Arizona) the shapes of deer and humans are made from devil's claw utilizing negative spaces on triangles.

This olla basket - jar (ca 1900-1910, Apache, Arizona) is woven using three-rod coils, willow, devil's claw, red yucca root.
Basket (ca 1920) by Elizabeth Hickox (1875-1947). Her classic designs were achieved by overlaying the foundation with yellow-dyed porcupine quills and black maidenhair fern stems.
This type of jar was perhaps used to carry water from a river. It was made by Mimbres people, SW New Mexico, ca. 1000-1150. These farmers produced pottery which are considered the most aesthetically sophisticated of the ancient art in North America.

Velvet bandolier bag's (ca 1890, Ojibwa, Great Lakes) elaborate design is created using thousands of colorful glass beads imported by Europeans.

This was one of the oldest object I saw in this collection (ca 1200), unfortunately I lossed its description and could not find it also in online exhibit.

The ceremonial masked dances of Alaska's central Yup'ik region honor and express gratitude to animals' spirits or souls and petition animals to be plentiful in coming season.

Just a little glimpse in this large collection. All 876 objects of which can be explored online here.

I loved this 1750 Mohawk bark house recreated at the lakeside.