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American Indian Art at the Spencer Museum of Art

September 6 - October 19, 2003


The Spencer Museum will display American Indian art from its own collection in the exhibition American Indian Art at the Spencer Museum, through October 19, 2003 in the White Gallery. The exhibition is in conjunction with the annual Lawrence Indian Arts Show.

American Indian Art includes contemporary paintings, prints, photographs, pottery and glass by contemporary artists such as Emmi Whitehorse, Jaune Quick-To-See Smith, Diego and Mateo Romero, Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie, Hachivi Edgar Heap-Of-Birds and Kay WalkingStick, and will feature a glass sculpture by Preston Singletary that the Friends of the Art Museum acquired at their April 2003 Annual Meeting. In addition there will be a small number of earlier 20th-century works from the museum's collection. (right: Mateo Romero, United States, b. 1966, Anglo/Cochiti Pueblo, Industrial Landscape, 2000, oil on masonite, Museum purchase: Peter T. Bohan Art Acquisition Fund, 2001.68)

"I was recently at a gallery in Santa Fe, and Jaune Quick-To-See Smith, who is one of the artists in our collection, was praising our museum for its commitment to collecting American Indian art," Norris says. "It meant a lot to everyone at the museum to hear such unsolicited acknowledgment."

The founding collection of the Spencer Museum of Art, amassed by Sallie Casey Thayer in the early twentieth century, contained significant works of American Indian art, which Mrs. Thayer collected enthusiastically. Most of this collection was transferred in the early 1980s to the newly formed anthropology museum at the University of Kansas, consolidating the traditional Native American collections, but leaving the art museum with little representation of American Indian work. The museum had a fine pot by Maria Martinez and some baskets that are, unfortunately, not in condition to display. Donors added four more Maria Martinez (1887-1980) pots and the print collection acquired a small print by the well-known printmaker Woody Crumbo (1912-1989).

"Our contemporary collecting of American Indian Art continues an intiative that began with Sallie Casey Thayer's original establishment of the museum," Norris says. "She believed that American Indian art was an important component of any serious art collection. We are proud to join with the Lawrence community and Haskell Indian Nations University in celebrating American Indian art."

Beginning in the mid-1990s the Spencer began actively to purchase American Indian works, particularly with the work of painter/printmaker Jaune Quick-To-See Smith, by whom the collection now has thirteen prints. In 1999 the Spencer purchased a bowl by Diego Romero, which was followed by several additional pots. One of these, by Nathan Begaye, will be on view for the first time in this exhibition. In 2001 the Museum purchased a portfolio of prints by ten American Indian artists, and in 2002 it acquired a group of photographs, including the "Women of Hope" portfolio by Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie. Many of the acquisitions came from loan exhibitions organized in conjunction with the Lawrence Indian Arts Show. (right: Preston Singletary, United States, b. 1963, Tlingit, Eagle Hat, 2003, blown, sandblasted glass, Museum purchase: Friends of the Art Museum, 2003.75)

Other attractions in conjunction with the show include American Indian Quilts at the Lawrence Public Library; Honoring Our Children at the Haskell Cultural Center; and two workshops at the Lawrence Arts Center: Navajo weaving (Oct. 1-5) and Beadwork (Oct. 13-15). For further information call 785-843-6830.

As well, the Spencer exhibition and the Lawrence Indian Arts Show provide a backdrop for poet, author and screenwriter Sherman Alexie's late October visit to Lawrence. On Oct. 18, in preparation for Alexie's arrival, Student Union Activities will sponsor a screening on campus of Alexie's latest film, The Business of Fancy Dancing.

On Oct. 29 at the Lied Center, Alexie will speak on "Killing Indians: Myths, Lies and Exaggerations," as part of the 2003-04 Humanities Lecture Series. The 7:30 p.m. lecture is free and open to the public.

Alexie, a Spokane/Coeur d'Alene Indian, focuses most of his work on the experiences -- both on and off the reservation -- of modern American Indians. He is the author of several books, including Reservation Blues and The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, and is perhaps best known for Smoke Signals, the 1998 film he wrote and produced that won the Sundance Film Festival Audience Award and Filmmaker's Trophy.

Founded in 1947, the Humanities Lecture Series is the oldest continuing series at the University of Kansas. In its history, more than 150 eminent scholars from around the world have participated in the program, including author Vladimar Nabokov, painter Thomas Hart Benton and author Aldous Huxley. For more information regarding the series, please contact the Hall Center at hallcenter@ku.edu or at (785) 864-7822.

American Indian Art is generously supported by Advocacy Research Institute, Inc.


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