The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky

The very use of the word art suggests one of the basic differences between European or European-derived and American Indian concepts. For not only did few Indian groups allow art to become a major way of life, as in the West, but many Native American languages even lack a term meaning “art” or “artist.” If one wished to refer to a beautiful basket or a well-carved sculpture, it was usually necessary to rely upon such terms as “well-done,” “effective,” or perhaps “powerful” (in the magical sense).

Ranging from an ancient stone pipe and painted robes to drawings, paintings, collages, photographs, and a contemporary video installation, the exhibition “The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky,” reflects the significant place that Plains Indian culture holds in the heritage of North America and in European history. Works of art collected centuries ago by French traders and travelers are seen together with those acquired by Lewis and Clark on their famous expedition of 1804–06, along with objects from the early reservation period and recent works created in dialogue with traditional forms and ideas.

The adjunct professor Mary D. Edwards, of the History of Art and Design department at Pratt Institute, was published by the Metropolitan museum of art with the “The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky,” a review of the Exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: March 3 – May 10, 2015, SECAC Art Inquiries, XVII, no. 1, 2016, pp. 68-71.

KIOWA_tipi cover_d645f8a5f41accdcc138ed6f35ba4985--native-american-indians-native-americans.jpg

This review describes Plains Indian masterworks found in European and North American collections, from pre-contact to contemporary, ranging from a two-thousand-year-old human-effigy stone pipe to contemporary paintings, photographs, and a video-installation piece.

It also presents the continuum of hundreds of years of artistic tradition, maintained against a backdrop of monumental cultural change. A complete explanation of the art pieces that provide a compelling of narrative about the ongoing vitality of Plains Indians art.

Check here for the review and to learn more!

The International Congress on Medieval Studies is an annual gathering of around 3,000 scholars interested in medieval studies. The congress features around 575 sessions of papers, panel discussions, roundtables, workshops and performances. Professor Mary D. Edwards gave a paper in Michigan “A New Medieval Source for Shakespeare’s Greatest Tragedy,” at the 52nd International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, Michigan, May 13, 2017.