American Collections Inspire Native Artists and Indian Communities

By: Lucy Fowler Williams and Melissa Wagner

Originally Published in 2000

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The American Section of University of Pennsylvania Museum has developed a rewarding relationship with the National Museum of the American Indian—Smithsonian Institution’s Artist in Residence Program. As a partner with MAI, the Museum annually hosts up to six native artists who travel to the east coast to conduct research on particular aspects of Native American collections. Recipients of the 21-day travel awards move between New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC, to conduct research at the American Museum of Natural History, Brooklyn Museum of Art, George Gustav Heye Center, University of Pennsylvania Museum, and the Smithsonian Institution. The objectives of the program are to enhance artistic growth, strengthen career development of the artists, and to encourage native artists to share the results of their work with their home communities.

Involved in the program since 1998, the American Section has welcomed and learned from nine individuals, all well-established artists in their own communities and each bearing a long list of credentials. Their artistic works range in subject matter, style, technique, and materials from traditional to modern. As a whole, the art­ists’ interests reflect a resounding appreciation for authenticity and accuracy surrounding then/ cultural heritage, a responsibility to demonstrate success as artists and to contribute meaningfully to their communities, and a thoughtful drive to inspire younger generations at home.

Visiting artists have included Haida bas­ketweaver Lisa Telford, Choctaw beadworker Marcus Amerman, Wasco fiber artist Pat Court­ney Gold, Hawaiian mixed-media artist Bernice Akamini, Nuxalt wood carver Sylas Saunders, Pawnee painter and print maker Jimmy Horn, Pheasant Rump Nakota jeweler and sculptor Nelda Shrunk, Haida weaver Evelyn Vander-hoop. and Navajo painter and educator Shonto Begay. As the program evolves and additional artists visit the Museum, we hope to share their vitality and artistic innovation with the wider Museum community.

Lucy Williams
Keeper, American Section

Melissa Wagner
Assistant Keeper, American Section

Cite This Article

Williams, Lucy Fowler and Wagner, Melissa. "American Collections Inspire Native Artists and Indian Communities." Expedition Magazine 42, no. 3 (November, 2000): -. Accessed July 15, 2024.

This digitized article is presented here as a historical reference and may not reflect the current views of the Penn Museum.

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