Art And Life Of America’s Plains Indians

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Artists of earth and sky. Rawhide, bear claw, eagle feathers and the glory of America’s Plains Indians, on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Plains Indians of North America – Pawnee, Cheyenne, Comanche, Arapaho, Lakota Sioux and more – are vivid in the popular imagination for their horse-mounted mastery of the wide-open middle of the continent. A big new exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art has gathered a spectacular collection of the Plains Indians’ art. "Art of Earth and Sky," they’re calling it. Ravishing artifacts – painted hides, sculpted pipes, astonishing headdress and horseback regalia – that open another view of life itself. This hour on On Point: Earth and sky and the astonishing art of the Plains Indians.
-- Tom Ashbrook


Gaylord Torrence, curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's "Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky" exhibit. Senior curator of American Indian Art at the Nelson-Atikins Museum of Art in Kansas City, MO. Author of "The American Indidan Parfleche."

Jodi Gillette, special assistant to the president for Native American Affairs. Member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times: Review: ‘The Plains Indians,’ America’s Early Artists, at the Met -- "Some of the earliest surviving art by native North Americans left America long ago. Soldiers, traders and priests, with magpie eyes for brilliance, bundled it up and shipped it across the sea to Europe. Painted robes, embroidered slippers and feathered headdresses tinkling with chimes found their way into cupboards in 18th-century London and Paris, and lay there half-forgotten. Now, in 'The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky' at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, some of those wondrous things have come home."

Boston Globe: Plains Indians saga finds artistic expression at the Met — "Sacredness and loss become more intimately intertwined as the show leads us forward in time. We see clothes, drawings, and other objects relating to the Sun Dance — a traditional rite of renewal banned by the US government in 1883 for being 'immoral and barbarian' — and the Ghost Dance — a spiritual movement that spread across the Plains in 1889-90 and, in the face of widespread devastation, envisioned a return to a time of peace and plenty."

b Magazine: Standing Rock Strong -- Gillette’s fully beaded “two-hide” dress is on exhibit in 'The Plains Indians: Artists of the Earth and Sky' at the Metropolitan Museum in New York in March. Inspired by an historic image of a Lakota woman’s clothes, Gillette designed and created the dance dress of deer leather, which is embellished with 15 pounds of beads."

This program aired on April 24, 2015.


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