Plains Indian Art: Created in Community explores the unparalleled talent of certain individuals and the special role of Plains artists in their communities. This exhibition will highlight Plains art as an expression of cultural tradition and community vibrancy, focusing specifically on generational change in style and function and the innovative techniques used by various artists. The visitor will learn how art is created within Native American communities as well as understand the shifting cultural meanings of certain artistic expressions. This exhibition also celebrates the different approaches — including the curator, historian and artist approaches — to understanding Native American art.
In the second and third quarters of the 19th century, Plains Indian culture reached a zenith of artistic expression and development. The re-introduction of the horse shortly after 1680, when the Spanish territory formed in the south, and the introduction of firearms around 1720 from French fur traders based in the Great Lakes area gave the Plains Indians the mobility and the armaments needed to create a food surplus based primarily on buffalo hunting. The food surplus in turn gave the Plains tribes the leisure time to create and excel in artistic expression. Some of the finest Plains Indians art of the 19th and early 20th centuries can be found in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In the vast collection of Gilcrease Museum are about 25,000 ethnographic items, many of which reflect the height of Plains cultural and artistic achievement of the 19th century.
Plains Indian Art: Created in Community guides museum visitors through an exploration of art and artisan works by Plains women and men beginning with beadwork and quillwork applied to dress clothing, such as shirts, dresses, vests, leggings, and moccasins, continuing through beadwork and quillwork on children’s items, such as baby carriers, as well as pipe bags. The artwork of individuals from various Plains cultures will be represented, including Kiowa, Lakota, Mandan/Hidatsa, Cheyenne, and Crow, among many others. The exhibition will also feature sections devoted to pictographic war records, the Native American Church, and outstanding contemporary American Indian artistic creations.
Exhibition overview from museum website
An illustrated volume accompanies the exhibition.