Hahn Family Foyer, Cornell Rotunda, Pardee Grand Plaza Gallery, Plaza and Warren Theater Galleries

Guest Curator Lois Sherr Dubin is the author of the new Harry N. Abrams, Inc. publication,NORTH AMERICAN INDIAN JEWELRY AND ADORNMENT FROM PREHISTORY TO THE PRESENT, the inspiration for the exhibition. The exhibition was funded in part by the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture and the County of San Diego Community Enhancement Program.

This unprecedented exhibition, highlighting the legacy and continuum of North American Indian adornment, presented more than 500 objects (on loan from 39 institutions and 63 private collections) of Native American adornment from the nine traditional geographic regions: Southwestern turquoise jewelry, Woodlands and Plains beadwork, Sub-arctic quill-and-moosehair work and California elk-horn jewelry. All demonstrated the relationship of great historic designs to contemporary adornment. The exhibition further revealed the rich spiritual and aesthetic heritage of contemporary American Indians and their place in the mainstream of world art.

Noted for its spirituality, North American Indian culture developed during a period of at least 14,000 years. The belief that spiritual energy pervades creation resulted in objects of daily use that portray items from nature — animals, plants, rocks, water, stars and the sun. These objects link man to nature’s spiritual energy. Life is lived according to cycles, and time is perceived as circular, symbolized by the sacred sun and four cardinal directions. These design motifs recur in adornment from ancient times to the present and are represented in the arts of Indians throughout the continent. Jewelry and other objects of adornment made by Indians from the Arctic, Sub-arctic, Woodlands, Plains, Great Basin, Plateau, Northwest Coast, Southwest and California were on view in the exhibition.

The opening of the exhibition was highlighted by a day-long symposium on August 29, led by Lois Dubin and featuring illustrated lectures, demonstrations, music and storytelling by Indian artist/craftsmen, including Jesse Monongye, Joe Baker, Drusilla Gould, George Blake, Lyle Wilson, Marcus Amerman and Tchin. Other Indian participants were Ralph Stogner, Nelda Schrupp, Rusty Houtz, Lisa Telford, Bob Smith, Chad Neilsen, Tis Mal Crow, Eva Broncho and Diane Clark and James Little.

An acoustiguide audio program narrated by Lynn Sherr accompanied the exhibition. A series of videotapes on contemporary Indian draftsmen played during the run of the exhibition.

On January 22, 2000 Richard West, Director of the National Museum of the American Indian and Chairman of the Board of Directors of The American Association of Museum, presented a public lecture related to the exhibition.

The Mingei exhibition documentary videotape, Arrows of the Spirit, was made possible by an anonymous foundation.


On View: Aug 29, 1999 - Apr 02, 2000

Curator: Lois Sherr Dubin

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