First American Art Magazine No. 21, Winter 2018/19 - Page 77

REVIEWS manipulation). The granddaughters were moved by the basket and took a few moments with the artist to share their appreciation for her work, as did many of the reception attendees. The artist’s text descriptions of the baskets were provided on labels, with more extensive analysis included in the exhibition catalogue. The catalogue, available at the gallery, also features five essays about the project, including one on the artist by esteemed author and curator Suzan Shown Harjo (Cheyenne-Hodulgee Muscogee). Resisting the Mission was featured upstairs in the Trout Gallery, and the opening reception was held simultaneous to the closing reception of Re-Riding History: From the Southern Plains to the Matanzas Bay, a group exhibition that explores the legacy of the prisoners of the Red River War confined at Fort Marion, several of whom attended Carlisle at its inception. Resisting the Mission will be on view through February 2, 2019. —heather ahtone, PhD OKLAHOMA CITY American Indian Artists: 20th Century Masters National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum O N VIEW in the Silberman Galler y is a unique examination of works by American Indian master artists. Eric Singleton, curator of ethnology, selected these artworks from the collections of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, primarily from the illustrious Arthur and Shifra Silberman Collection and the Charles W. Hogan Collection. The deep turquoise-colored walls draw the visitor into the spacious gallery where one is immediately confronted by Tipi (1990) by Vanessa Paukeigope Jennings (Pima-Kiowa-Kiowa Apache). On this model of an actual Kiowa tipi collected by anthropologist James Mooney at the turn of the 20th century, two images of Zemoguani, the Kiowa horned fish, wrap around the tipi and converge at the tipi entrance, their open mouths baring razor-sharp teeth. In an interview with the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, Jennings discusses the first such tipi she was asked to recreate on a smaller scale as a model by Shifra Silberman. She based her model on Tipi with Battle Pictures (1920), which her grandfather, Stephen Mopope, a member of the Kiowa Six, helped refabricate for a silent film, Daughter of the Dawn. He had once told her that painting this was his greatest artistic honor, though he was only 16 at the time. The tipi was a renewal of the Kiowa Battle Tipi from 1833. Within Kiowa culture, only men could paint those designs on the tipi, and therefore Jennings taught her sons, Gabriel Morgan and Seth Mopope Morgan, to paint the scenes for her model of the Kiowa Battle Tipi. The artwork featured in the exhibition is driven by the institutions that influenced them: the University of Oklahoma, which gave us the Kiowa Six; Bacone College for which the style of the Bacone School is named; and the Studio at the Santa Fe Indian School, which was founded in 1932 by Dorothy Dunn and was the precursor to the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA). An additional category for Native American art post-1960 features artists mostly either self-taught, such as Frank Big Bear Jr. (White Earth Ojibwe), or trained at IAIA, such as T.C. Cannon (Kiowa-Caddo, 1946–1978). The artworks, however, are interspersed throughout the gallery, and the nonchronological setup allows the visitor to begin anywhere and receive an equitable experience, useful because of the three entries into the exhibition space. The stand-alone, double-sided text panels are more viewer-friendly than traditional wall text and have the added bonus of featuring reproductions of archival photographs from the Silberman Collection, a creative addition to the exhibition. For instance, the viewer can see the famous picture of a baby Lois Smoky Kaulaity (Kiowa, 1907–1981) snuggled happily in her cradleboard, along with many other images of the Kiowa Six with Oscar Jacobson. The section after 1960 represents artists who were influenced, directly or indirectly, by the strides made in Native American art at the University of Oklahoma and the Santa Fe Studio. Here the viewer can see the Flatstyle works from Santa Fe and Oklahoma change to include a more individualistic embrace of modern and contemporary art movements such as influences by the Mexican muralists. Of this group, a particularly striking piece and one of the outliers of the show is Great White Heron Spirit Helper (1976) by Unangax̂ artist John Hoover (1919–2011). Drawing inspiration from historical spirit boards and the outlined and ovoid forms of Northwest Coast art, Hoover created a triptych that when closed, depicts only the center panel of the long, graceful necks and heads of two herons, beak to beak, surrounding a human form, each outline creating the next form. When opened, the two herons become cut-out mirror images of themselves creating two additional birds. Herons by nature are solitary birds except during mating. The iconography here is clear—two solitary herons come together in a “kissing” pose. At the bottom of each of the birds’ necks and within the forms is a smaller representation of the same human head shown in the center panel. Likewise, at the bottom of the large human figure in the center is the form of a full-bodied heron with wings spread. This iconography suggests elements of shamanism and transformation. The smaller figures within the larger ones represent the spirit helpers. Hanging alone on a short side wall that transitions into an adjacent gallery is one of the hidden gems of the show. Poetry That Falls from the Sky (2001) is by Southern Cheyenne artist Merlin Little Thunder, known for his detailed landscape miniatures. The work could be easily missed by virtue of its positioning. However, one can examine in admiration the exquisite detail and acuteness of scale the depiction of a Southwestern landscape where three Native figures have stopped at a creek to water their horses. The painting recedes within its frame, adding even more depth, an effect of the seven mats’ complementing colors within the artwork. The top mat is embossed with designs and features an illustrated signature by the artist. One fascinating aspect of the displayed masters, clear to those viewers WINTER 2018/19 | 75