Unbound: Narrative Art of the Plains

Unbound: Narrative Art of the Plains

Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in New York

Unbound: Narrative Art of the Plains,” opened March 12 at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, George Gustav Heye Center in New York.  It celebrates the lively storytelling of society, war and peacetime, repression and expression found within the historic narrative artworks of the Native Americans of the Great Plains.

The exhibition traces the evolution of the art form created on historic hides, muslin and ledger books. More than 50 contemporary works commissioned by the museum are also on display. The works illustrate everything from war deeds and ceremonial events to notions of modernity and identity.

In the beginning of the 18th century Plains narrative art was expressed through various media like painted deerskin war shirts and buffalo robes. As trade broadened in the 19th century artists created elaborate battle scenes on large canvas tipi liners, muslin cloth and hides to record winter counts. Some works document more than 100 years of history. When ledger books became available the artists used the pages to create narrative drawings. Native artists revived ledger art in the 1970s and incorporated contemporary topics into their work.

These historic and contemporary narrative artworks of Native peoples of the Great Plains is a must see. On exhibit until December 4th, 2016.


Categories: Arts & Crafts

About Author

Becky Olvera Schultz

Becky Olvera Schultz is an artist and photographer whose background includes journalism, advertising and marketing. She has been in involved with the powwow circuit for several years, participating as a vendor and as a member of powwow planning committees. For more information on Becky, visit her art site at www.native-expressions.com