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MITCHELL GALLERY EXHIBITION: American Indian Art from the Fenimore Art Museum

| March 04, 2020, 06:08 PM

Rams Head

Mask, Ca. 1850, Central Yup’ik, Bristol Bay, Alaska, cedar wood & bark, duck feathers, snowy owl feathers, sandhill crane feathers, caribou fur, white clay & black pigment, Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York.

“American Indian Art from the Fenimore Art Museum: The Thaw Collection” features 44 pieces of American Indian art spanning nearly two millenniums. With objects including sculptures, paintings, drawings, basketry, textiles, ceramics, and other media, the exhibition represents the varying aesthetic traditions of North America’s native peoples. The exhibition is organized by the Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York, in collaboration with the Mitchell Gallery.

The oldest object in “American Indian Art from the Fenimore Art Museum: The Thaw Collection” dates back to approximately 100-600 A.D.—a carved Ipuitak polar bear figure made out of sea mammal ivory—while more recent pieces include a 19th-century cowhide war record commemorating a battle between the Lakota and Crow. Other works include painted ceramics and weavings from Hopi and Diné (Navajo) artists, as well as a leather-bound drawing book by the artist Black Hawk (Sans Arcs Sioux) that contains 76 striking illustrations. Housed under one roof and joined together in the context of Native American history, the objects on display in the Mitchell Gallery form a stunning, powerful exhibition.

Eugene Thaw graduated from St. John’s College in 1947 before embarking on a prolific career as an art historian, collector, philanthropist, and scholar. In addition to cultivating an outstanding collection of Native American art and rare works by Goya, Van Gogh, and more, Thaw served on the architectural advisory committee for the Mitchell Gallery and generously offered items from his collection for three separate Mitchell Gallery exhibitions. Eugene and Clare Thaw donated their American Indian art collection to the Fenimore Art Museum in 1995; since then, the collection has grown to include a vast array of new pieces added by the Thaws and other donors. The Fenimore Art Museum states: “Each new object reaffirms the Thaws’ commitment to the beauty and artistry of American Indian art, and thus strengthens the philosophical foundation of the collection: that the aesthetic power of American Indian art is equivalent to that from any culture.”

Exhibition: The exhibition opens on March 6, 2020 and runs through April 26, 2020.

Curator’s Lecture: March 8 at 3 p.m. Eva Fognell, curator of the Eugene and Clare Thaw Collection of American Indian Art at the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, NY, will lecture on From Old Masters to Native American Masters: The Thaw Collection of American Indian Art.

For more information about the exhibit and related events, call 410-626-2556. The  Mitchell Gallery is located on the campus of St. John’s College–Mellon Hall, 60 College Avenue, Annapolis, MD.  Sjc.edu/Mitchell-gallery.

Gallery hours are 12-5 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday, and 6:45-7:45 p.m., Friday. Closed Mondays. Docent tours, Thursdays, noon-3 p.m.

Learn more about the Mitchell Gallery by having a listen to our podcast with Hydee Schaller and Lucinda Edinberg from the Gallery.

Where to find the DNB...


Rams Head

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