An art date to the Amon Carter

I decided to take myself on an art date and went to the Amon Carter. Even though the museum is in the middle of construction, it has several new exhibits on display. Although I enjoyed the other exhibits, I was most interested in Indigenous Beauty: Masterworks of American Indian Art and the large painting by Esther Pearl Watson. I read an article about her in D Magazine and was captivated by her unusual Texas upbringing.

In Texas, most of us are at least familiar with the Indians of the Southwest and the Plains Indians, but perhaps not so much with the indigenous peoples of the Northwest. Certainly I have seen pictures, but never the actual items in person, so this section was especially captivating. It’s always interesting to see firsthand how the region of a group affects dress, ceremonies, and every day items—from fish to bear as decorations, to the materials used, to the dress and housing. Also interesting are the modern day interpretations by well-known craftsmen that are placed alongside the originals. I loved seeing the ledgerbooks and parfleches of the Plains Indians, since I had only seen pictures before. As a weaver, I tend to look especially closely at the woven items. An examination of one in particular, Tunic and leggings, showed how the weaving became more sophisticated. And then there were the grease bowls. I mean, who has heard of grease bowls? A modern piece of a Plains Indian woman sitting horseback, pulling a travois with children aboard. The decorations, the perfectly straight back of the woman, the clothing, all were wonderful to see. I do suspect that the artist of this piece probably used many more decorations than were usual.

Thoughtfully included with the exhibit, are touch boards of the materials used in the creation of the items displayed. I have to admit, I found myself wanting to touch several times. I also made a Pinterest board with pictures from the exhibit. And if you’re interested, there are a couple of children’s books about the Plains Indians that I like: Buffalo Hunt and The Ledgerbook of Thomas Blue Eagle. The Ledgerbook is engaging because of its art and the unusual way of presenting the story. A bit of warning about Buffalo Hunt—the book describes not only the different methods of the hunt, but also how each and every part of the bison was used. The kids (or adults) may call out GROSS! but they’ll probably find it interesting.