Undaunted Spirit: Native American Art
Undaunted Spirit: Native American Art is the final phase in MAM’s major reinstallation of the Rand Gallery of Native American Art. The new installation’s overarching theme is the stylistic development of Native American art traditions and the historical contexts in which these changes were made. A major goal is to highlight the great resiliency of Native people and their ability to keep art traditions alive while adapting to changing conditions. Throughout history, Native artists have been innovators trying new materials, art forms, and designs sometimes from other tribes through trade, gifts, or warfare, and very often from Euro-American introductions.
Undaunted Spirit is divided into four sections. The first traces the development of a style of Navajo weaving called an “eyedazzler” and Navajo silver working, two techniques which evolved from their exposure to Mexican artistry during a years-long internment at Bosque Redondo by the U.S. government.
Another section explores the art traditions of the tribes of the Great Plains and features beadwork for which these tribes are famous. Confined to reservation life, women gained freedom from their traditional workload and had more time for making elaborate beaded dress clothing and paraphernalia ranging from horse gear to baby carriers.
Featuring Northwest Coast Indian clan regalia, the next section focuses on potlatch ceremonies, where participants wear dress clothing such as Chilkat dancing blankets, button blankets, and headdresses. Carved masks, raven rattles, and many other objects created to display clan lineages are also used.
The last section highlights contemporary artwork from the Native American art collection. It will be designed to rotate pieces regularly and add new acquisitions. Featured artworks currently included contemporary Native artists Allan Houser, Kay WalkingStick, Preston Singletary, and Jody Folwell.
Undaunted Spirit is funded by Audrey and Norbert Gaelen. Additional generous support provided by Paula Del Nunzio and Paul Balser, Holly English and Fred Smagorinsky, Tracy Higgins and James Leitner, Karen G. Mandelbaum, Carole and Malcolm Schwartz, and Margo and Frank Walter.
All Museum programs are made possible, in part, by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, and by funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, Carol and Terry Wall/The Vance Wall Foundation, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, and Museum members.