An abundance of spiritual resonance, tallismanic power, and healing energy are inherent in the Plains Indian art and aesthetics. The beauty and power of the culture have held our fascination through the years and have been the source of inspiration for many works of art created by contemporary artists.
Different tribes of the Plains Indians had their own religions, cosmologies, and world views. We know that many of these beliefs are animist in nature which means the existence of individual spirits inhabit natural objects and phenomena. Earth has always been significant to the Plains Indians as she was the mother of all spirits.
Certain items like medicine bundles are particularly sacred. Other items with great spiritual power include war shields, war shirts, and ceremonial pipes, many of which have been treasured by tribes for centuries.
The Plains Indians performed daily the healing power of prayers by an individual or in a group. The most important group ceremony is the Sun Dance, an intertribal activity on the Plains that involves personal sacrifice for the good of loved ones and the entire community.
“The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky” at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The distinct Plains culture is brought to life in a major, in-depth exhibition titled “The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky” at The Metropolitan Museum, March 9 – May 10, 2015. Organized with the Museé du Quai Branly in Paris and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, it brings together more than 150 iconic works from European and North American collections.
In this exhibition the Native American Plains Indians’ beliefs and values are revealed through an array of forms and mediums, ranging from painting and drawing; sculptural works in stone, wood, antler, and shell; porcupine-quill and glass-bead embroidery; feather work; painted robes depicting figures and geometric shapes; richly ornamented clothing; composite works; and ceremonial objects. Many nations, including Osage, Quapaw, Omaha, Crow, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Lakota, Blackfeet, Pawnee, Kiowa, Comanche, and Meskwaki will be represented.
Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of the Metropolitan Museum, stated, “Through outstanding works of art from the Plains region, this ambitious exhibition demonstrates the long history of change and creative adaptation that characterizes Native American art. It is an important opportunity to highlight the artistic traditions that are indigenous to North America and to present them in the context of the Met’s global collections.”
In the exhibition catalogue Arthur Amiotte wrote: “In the historical absence of written language, art is where the underpinning of tribal thought and values are encrypted.”
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the world’s largest and finest museums, with collections spanning more than 5,000 years of world culture, from prehistory to the present and from every part of the globe.
Visit The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s website at http://www.metmuseum.orgby