UTICA — The great achievements of North America’s first artists are celebrated in American Indian Art from Fenimore Art Museum: The Thaw Collection, an exhibition at Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute that demonstrates the long-standing excellence of the aesthetic traditions of North America’s native peoples.
Spanning the continent from the first millennium to the 20th century, the exhibition, on view through Dec. 30, features more than 35 exceptional objects showcasing masterpieces in various media—sculpture, painting, drawing, basketry, textiles, ceramics, and the decorative arts.
More information from MWPAI:
Native Americans took great pleasure in the visual beauty of these objects made with imagination and skill, but they also prized qualities invisible in the finished work.
These vary from place to place and may include the ritual correctness of gathering raw materials; sound construction and usefulness; the power that comes from an object’s conception in a vision or dream; or how often an object appears in performances, feasts, and ceremonies, during which oratory, dance, song, and movement give it animating force.
For instance, a whelk shell neck ornament exquisitely carved by an unrecorded Caddoan artist between 1200 and 1350, depicts a figure involved in a ritual observance and was worn as a sign of status or office. In a more recent example, which dates to 1880-1881, the Sans Arcs Lakota artist, Black Hawk, created drawings of hunting, dance, warfare and ceremony.
He used minimal outlining and animated his rendering with pattern, textured surfaces, and pale, translucent color.
Art such as Black Hawk’s bears witness to Native American artists’ experimentation with the new materials, techniques, and imagery introduced by Euro-Americans. Such objects record artists’ ability to absorb without being absorbed, despite intense pressure to assimilate into Euro-American culture. They testify to their creators’ ingenuity and resilience, and to the importance of the arts in sustaining traditions that have not vanished but continue today stronger than ever.
This selection of artistic landmarks is drawn entirely from the collection of Native North American art that was assembled by Eugene and Clare Thaw. Recognized as a leading dealer and collector of Old Master drawings and paintings, Eugene Thaw approached Native American material culture as fine art, applying the same exacting standards of connoisseurship here as in other areas.
Today, his collection of American Indian art encompasses more than 875 objects and is widely recognized as one of the most significant in the world. Discover the transcendent beauty of the choicest of these works of art on view for the first time for our Utica community.
The exhibition is organized by Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, in collaboration with Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute. It is supported by a grant from the Eugene V. & Clare E. Thaw Charitable Trust.
The museum is located at 310 Genesee St. For more information, call 315-797-0000 or go online to mwpai.org.
Other Museum of Art events
Sunday, Oct. 28, 2 p.m.: Illustrated presentation, “Living to Eat: Italian Food, Identity, and Representation in Utica” with Philip Bean, Ph.D., Author of The Urban Colonists: Italian American Identity and Politics in Utica, New York and Associate Dean at Haverford College, Haverford, Pennsylvania. Free and open to the public.
Although a cliché, the expression “you are what you eat” encapsulates this discussion of Italian cuisine and the ways it has defined “Italianness.” It will serve as an entrée into a conversation about Italian life in Utica, as well as a brief overview of artists including Rose Marasco, Bob Cimbalo, and Larry Pacilio, who have produced visual representations of Italian-American life in Utica.
Saturdays at 1 p.m.: Guided tours of American Indian Art from Fenimore Art Museum, The Thaw Collection. Free and open to the public
Saturdays 10:30 to 11:45 a.m.: Art and Yoga for Mind, Body and Spirit. Drop-in fee: $15, $10 MWPAI members. Enjoy a short talk about art, followed by an hour-long yoga class for all levels of ability. Bring your own yoga mat.
Tickets on sale: Holiday Bus Trip to New York City on Wednesday, Dec. 5, from 6 a.m. to midnight. Cost is $86.50, $76.50 MWPAI members — call 315-797-0055.
Begin your New York City holiday adventure in Bryant Park – where more than 100 artisans sell their wares at the annual holiday shops. The city offers shopping, Broadway shows, renowned museums, the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, and more.