The Spirit of Land and Tradition: The Eugene and Clare Thaw Collection of American Indian Art

(This exhibition will return in the fall of 2011 from October 1 - December 31)

From the canyons and mesas of the Southwest to the woodlands of the East coast, the North American landscape offers a rich array of climates and environments.  In these regional landscapes abundant with a variety of natural resources, artists have found materials and inspiration for creating beautiful and useful works of art. Since ancient times artists have carved wood into bowls, spoons, and boxes, and collected clay to make pottery for storing grains and carrying water. They have searched special places along riverbeds and in forests to find natural fibers to weave trays, baskets, baby carriers, clothing and storage containers. Shells, rocks, and seeds have been collected and fashioned into personal ornaments and used to decorate clothing and special objects. The natural environment has served as inspiration for American Indian artists for countless generations.

In addition to including elements from nature, artists experiment and evolve by incorporating traditional designs, imaginative ideas and visions into their artwork. Over time new materials and techniques have been incorporated through trade and exchange with other American Indians, ­Europeans, Americans and Canadians. Today, the power and beauty of the landscape and its resources continue to guide artistic expression.