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Posts from the ‘Oklahoma’ Category

Summer 2015 Roundup

Sherds and Patches has been neglected. My summers are always busy, but this year has been really busy. As the fall semester is about to begin, I feel like I should at least take stock of where I have been. A surprising number of folks visit this site and seemingly find something that they are looking for. In hopes of leading online visitors to some of the exhibitions, projects, etc. that I have been involved in this summer, I offer this roundup with relevant links. Packing a summer into one post, please excuse the length (about 1600 words). Skimmers welcome.

When the spring semester ended, my Mathers Museum of World Cultures colleagues and I, together with MMWC Policy Committee Chair Eric Sandweiss, poured our energies into hosting Museums at the Crossroads: Local Encounters, Global Knowledge. Held at the museum between May 14 and 21, the workshop was supported by the IU School of Global and International Studies and the College of Arts and Sciences. It gathered museum professionals and other scholars from numerous institutions and various countries for generative discussions and activities aimed at considering the state of museums in changing social contexts around the world. I am thankful for all who journeyed to Bloomington to join the discussion. Thanks too go to the MMWC staff members who helped organize the gathering and to the School and College for their generous support. Learn a bit more about Museums at the Crossroads from this IU press release. SGIS published a wrap-up story about Crossroads.

Before and after Museums at the Crossroads, I worked as a lead investigator on a Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-funded research/planning project considering the viability of alternative, sustainable financial models for university press monograph publishing in the humanities and interpretive social sciences. This is a project being pursued concurrently on the University of Michigan and Indiana University campuses. I am the researcher for the IU component of the project. A glimpse of the project is available in this IU press release (where our project is the second of two being discussed). A story last summer in the Chronicle of Higher Education provides additional context for the models that I have been discussing with IU faculty and administrators as well as with our UM/IU, research team.

Another big project that came to fruition in the days after Museums at the Crossroads is the Mathers Museum of World Cultures exhibition Cherokee Craft, 1973. This is an exhibition that I have looked forward to doing since the early 1990s. As I student, I first studied the museum’s collections made among the Eastern Cherokee. I knew then that they would make a great exhibition. That moment came this summer. Originally, I was going to curate the exhibition with help from graduate students Emily Buhrow Rogers and Kelley Totten but by the time we finished, it was Kelly and I helping Emily with her exhibition. What Kelly and Emily came up with is infinitely better than the simple exhibition that I had originally imagined. Cherokee Craft, 1973 opened June 16. Here is how we have described the exhibition in promotional materials.

Cherokee Craft, 1973 offers a snapshot of craft production among the Eastern Band Cherokee at a key moment in both an ongoing Appalachian craft revival and the specific cultural and economic life of the Cherokee people in western North Carolina. The exhibition showcases woodcarvings, masks, ceramics, finger woven textiles, basketry, and dolls. The works presented are all rooted in Cherokee cultural tradition but all also bear the imprint of the specific individuals who crafted them and the particular circumstances in which these craftspeople made and circulated their handwork.

What that description does not explain is that the presentation for the exhibition creatively evokes the Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual, Inc. gallery (ca. 1973), from which the museum obtained its collection. Come by and see the exhibition at MMWC and find the real co-op as it is today on its website.

After a quick but wonderful visit to Oklahoma for Green Corn, I headed off to the Smithsonian Institution to again serve as a visiting faculty member at the Summer Institute in Museum Anthropology, which is led by Candace Greene and funded by the National Science Foundation. I have discussed SIMA previously. It is a great program and this was a another great year. If you are new to SIMA, check out the SIMA information page. On top of the great SIMA stuff, I even had a bit of time to see the Chinese basketry in the NMNH collections!

A basket cataloged as Chinese in the collections of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. ET08510

A basket cataloged as Chinese in the collections of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. ET08510

SIMA was followed by a quick family trip to Santa Fe, where I got to attend the International Folk Art Market (which was great as always) and see the exhibition “The Red that Colored the World” at the Museum of International Folk Art. The “Red” exhibition is a tour de force. Simply amazing. I hope that many many more people get to see it in Santa Fe or on the tour to come. You can read about the Red exhibition in many places, including this NEH story by Peter BG Shoemaker in Humanities magazine.

While in Santa Fe, I purchased (at the market) two willow baskets by Blaise Cayol, a remarkable French basket maker. Learn about his basketry on his website Celui qui Tresse.

I collected Blaise Cayol’s baskets for a lot of reasons, including wanting them to help expand on the story that the Mathers Museum of World Cultures is telling in the exhibition Willow Work: Viki Graber, Basketmaker, which opens tomorrow. It is a great exhibition focused on the work of a great basket maker. Quoting from our exhibition announcement:

Willow Work: Viki Graber, Basketmaker presents a weaver of willow baskets from the Mennonite community of Goshen, Indiana, where she has lived for 25 years. Graber learned willow basket weaving at the age of twelve from her father, who was recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts as a 2009 National Heritage Fellow. Where once her family plied their talents to make utilitarian workbaskets, today she works full-time weaving baskets for collectors and to sell at art shows and galleries. While using the same tools and methods as her great-grandfather, Graber’s keen sense of color and innovative designs have elevated her family’s craft to a new aesthetic level.

Jon Kay curated Willow Work, drawing upon work done for Traditional Arts Indiana. Get details on the exhibition on the MMWC website. Learn more about Viki’s basketry on her website, Confluence of Willows.

Willow Work: Viki Graber, Basketmaker is one of three exhibitions that we (MMWC) are organizing for Themester. I will post (I hope) about the two that are still to come, but I note here that a second one has been curated by Jon Kay. Here is the description. Working Wood opens on September 8.

Working Wood: Oak-Rod Baskets in Indiana presents the work of the Hovis and Bohall families of Brown County, Indiana, who made distinctive white-oak baskets for their neighbors to carry everyday items and to gather corn. However, by the 1930s, the interest of urban tourists transformed these sturdy workbaskets into desirable souvenirs and art objects. In recent years, these baskets have come to be called “Brown County” and “Bohall” baskets, perhaps because of the great number of baskets made by the Bohall family in Brown county during the 1920s and 1930s. Nevertheless, the history of this craft is more complex these names reveal. Using artifacts and historic photographs, this exhibit explores the shifts in the uses and meanings of these baskets as they changed from obsolete, agricultural implements, into a tourist commodity. Using the lens of work, this exhibition tells the story of these oak-rod baskets and the people who made and used them, and how local makers strived to find a new audience for their old craft, and how ultimately the lure of steady work in the city contributed to the end of this tradition.

Between now and then, we will be working to finalize an third basketry exhibition that I have co-curated with Lijun Zhang of the Guangxi Museum of Nationalities. Opening September 1, It focuses on work baskets in Southwestern China. We describe it in this way.

Putting Baskets to Work in Southwestern China explores the contemporary the use of basketry in urban and rural labor in contemporary China drawing upon a newly acquired representative collection of bamboo baskets documented as active tools of labor in the region around Dali, in Yunnan province, and in Guizhou and Guangxi provinces. The collection was acquired and documented by Jason Baird Jackson, Director of the Mathers Museum of World Cultures, who will co-curate the exhibit with Lijun Zhang, Research Curator at the Guangxi Museum of Nationalities in Guangxi, China.

All three of these work-related basketry exhibitions have been organized for the Fall 2015 Themester, which is themed “@Work: The Nature of Labor on a Changing Planet.” Our museum programs are organized under the rubric “@Work with Basketry on a Changing Planet.” The College of Arts and Sciences at IU has contributed to these projects and the public programs that will accompany them. Learn more about Themester 2015 on the Themester website. Learn more about the exhibitions and programs on the MMWC website.

In the background, Emily Buhrow Rogers and I have been finalizing a double issue of Museum Anthropology Review. We look forward to sharing it in the next couple of weeks. See some of its content online in preview mode at the journal website.

In the midst of all of this, I have—with the support of numerous friends and colleagues—been preparing my faculty promotion case. Time will tell how that turns out.

This is just some of the high points. Its been a busy summer. Whether relaxing or busy, I hope that your summer was excellent.

Chief’s Coats, Brides, and Drumkeepers: The Development of Osage Bridal Attire

NAL15_OsageWeddingFlier_Color[1]Another community gathering for the Osage Weddings project is scheduled for this Sunday. This is a really exciting project with lots of opportunities for community involvement.

The Woody Guthrie Center Seeks Executive Director, Educator

The emergent Woodie Guthrie Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma (one of my favorite places) is seeking to fill two key positions: (1) Executive Director/Chief Curator and (2) Educator and Public Programs Manager. These are great opportunities in an exciting new venture to be built around the Woody Guthrie Archives . Find out about both the Director and Educator jobs on the Oklahoma Museum Association website.

Coconut Rattles in Florida and Oklahoma

The diversity of materials used by Native peoples in the Americas to make hand rattles is pretty staggering. Among the farming peoples of the Southwest, Plains, Northeast and Southeast, gourds are one important material used for this purpose. Having the same basic form as gourd rattles, but unique to some Southeastern Indian peoples, are rattles, such as this Florida Seminole example, made from coconuts. William C. Sturtevant provided the coconut used here to Jack Motlow, from whom he commissioned it for $2.00 in 1951. This Florida Seminole example is made exactly like those used among the Southeastern peoples in Oklahoma, including among the Yuchi. (I commissioned Yuchi examples for the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa during the later 1990s.) Such rattles are called “gourds” in English in Oklahoma and are particularly suited to the outdoor dances of the region. Such rattles are loud and thus sound great when used, as they most often are, outside, in open spaces. (The holes drilled in the coconut amplify the rattle’s sound.)

This example is #301 in the William C. Sturtevant Collection, Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.

(The Seminole Tribune has published biographical profiles of two of Jack and Lena Motlow’s daughters. These profiles are of Louise Motlow and Mary Motlow Sanchez and are online.)

New Jobs: Terri Jordan Edition

In more great job news from Oklahoma, Terri Jordan, an MA graduate of the Indiana University Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology who has been working as collections manager in the Native American Languages Division of the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History (at the University of Oklahoma), has just taken a new job as Curator of the Julian P. Kanter Political Commercial Archive, also at the University of Oklahoma.  During her time at IU, Terri pursued the double MA/MLS degree with a focus on archives, museum work and public folklore. I had the unusual honor of working with Terri both at the University of Oklahoma, where she was an undergraduate student and at IU at the final phase of her MA work. Congratulations go to Terri on the occasion of this promotion to a position of greater responsibility. Curating an archive of political advertisements!  What a great opportunity for a folklorist (and archivist, of course).

New Jobs: Kimberly Marshall Edition

I am super pleased to learn that Kimberly Marshall, an excellent anthropologist, ethnomusicologist, folklorist and Native studies scholar with whom I work at Indiana University Bloomington has just accepted a position as Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Oklahoma. Kimberly is presently finalizing a dissertation for the IU Departments of Anthropology and of Folklore and Ethnomusicology that focuses on music and cultural performance in the context of contemporary Navajo Christian communities. She is a great fit for Oklahoma and she is joining a vital anthropology department with great students and colleagues, as well as a deep history of important work across her many fields. Congratulations Kim!  Congratulations Oklahoma!

Daniel Swan on Osage Uses of the North American Lotus

Ethnobotany Research and Applications is an important gold open access journal in the field of ethnobotany. It is now in the midst of publishing its 8th volume. I am pleased to note that my friend and collaborator Daniel C. Swan has just published a paper in this journal. “The North American Lotus (Nelumbo lutea Willd Pers.) – Sacred Food of the Osage People” draws upon his long-term research with Osage people in present-day Oklahoma and grows out of his studies of both Osage cultural performance and expressive culture and his interest in plant use in Native North America. The paper also reflects Dan’s commitment to open access publishing. It has been a good month for him in this connection, as earlier this month another paper of his appeared in Museum Anthropology Review, this one on the decorated boxes made and used by members of the Native American Church.

Congratulations Dan!  Congratulations too to all those countless folks who would like to read such papers but who usually cannot afford to access them.

Read Frank Speck’s Oklahoma Essays on your Phone, Free (Connexions)

The Connexions project headquartered at Rice University is great. I tried it out as a book publishing platform last year by editing into existence a book composed of Frank G. Speck’s essays on Oklahoma and Indian Territories originally published in The Southern Workman. Speck was a anthropologist and folklorist who visited the twin territories just before statehood.  The essays are really interesting for a lot of reasons that I try to describe in my introduction to the volume.  Today I am just noting that Connexions has added EPUB format to the range of ways that you can freely read and use (and remix) Connexions content.  This means that the little Speck book can be read using a e-reader on fancy phones and other mobile devices.  Connexions also serves up content in free PDF files and free dynamic webpages.  Any work can be purchased as a print on demand book too. If you do not know about Connexions, you really should check it out.

Fall Conference #2: Euchee (Yuchi) History Symposium

At the beginning of October (8-9), I participated in the first even Euchee (Yuchi) History Symposium, an event organized by the Euchee (Yuchi) Tribe of Indians and held in conjunction with the tribe’s annual Heritage Days Festival. The event took place near Kellyville, Oklahoma at the Creek County Fairgrounds, the place where the first Euchee Heritage Days Festival took place 14 years ago. (I am starting to feel really old!)

The inaugural history symposium is an outgrowth of the tribe’s current ANA-funded history project. The format for the event featured presentations by historians and historical anthropologists with broad knowledge of native (and non-native) history in the American South that is relevant to the specific question of Euchee tribal history. Presenters included Robbie Ethridge, David Chang, Steve Warren, Steve Martin, Joshua Piker, Mary Linn, Cindy Tiger (Euchee) and Tamara Wilson (Euchee). Euchee (Yuchi) Tribe of Indians Chairman Andrew Skeeter hosted the event and I had the honor of serving as a sort of facilitator and master of ceremonies. The symposium and the festival as a whole was very expertly organized and staffed by a very large and effective group of volunteers from the Euchee community.

The symposium program was organized chronologically and spanned the period from first contact with Europeans through to the present. Each of the presenters brought valuable knowledge to the table and there was much fruitful discussion among everyone assembled.  I think that there were eye opening moments too for all involved.  Those who were visiting Euchee country for the first time were, I know, impressed with the vitality of Euchee community life and the seriousness with which Euchee people pursue their language, culture and history work.  For Euchee community members, I think that there was a deepening of understanding of how complicated, and often troubling, the historical narrative of the past 500 years of Euchee history is. (The story of native involvement in the colonial slave trade was a source of much discussion.) For everyone, there was renewed hope that the complexities of this story can be sorted out and presented in ways that will be valuable to both the community and to scholars who have so often misunderstood the place of the Euchee in the larger history of North America.

The symposium was an all-day event on Friday (10/8/10) and then a briefer recap of the Friday discussions was held on Saturday morning as the first of the day’s festival events.

The festival itself is always fun and this year it was particularly excellent. In addition to the symposium there were a number of other firsts, including much involvement from the Euchee language classes.  Some hilarious skits and plays were staged in the Euchee language throughout the event. For the first time ever, the tribe selected its first tribal princess.  All of the participants (and organizers) did a wonderful job and Miss Julia Wakeford was crowned the first Miss Euchee Princess. The festival also featured the first all-Euchee Color Guard and, for the first time, an old fashioned Corn Stalk Shoot with old style bows and arrows.

As a scholarly conference that included amazing food, a stomp dance, a horseshoe tournament, hilarious Euchee comedy, lots of raffles and prizes, a bingo night, oodles of arts and crafts, cultural demonstrations, and socializing with lots of nice people from all over Eastern Oklahoma, the first Euchee (Yuchi) History Symposium set a standard for work and play that no regular academic conference can ever meet.  The Euchee people have every reason to be proud of this very successful event. I am very thankful that I was able to participate.

Mediterranean Treasures: Selections from the Classics Collection [at SNOMNH]

I am excited to share news of an upcoming exhibition at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History. Opening October 2 and continuing through January 2, 2011 is Mediterranean Treasures: Selections from the Classics Collection.  At SNOMNH, the museum’s significant Classical Archaeology collections are steward by the Division of Ethnology (led by my friend and collaborator Daniel C. Swan). This new show has been curated by the division’s talented collections manager (and old world archaeology specialist) Kathryn Barr. Describing the exhibition’s orienting framework, the exhibition release quotes her noting:

“In developing this exhibit we faced a challenge on how to incorporate a number of different cultures and time periods,” explained Kathryn Barr, exhibit curator and manager of the ethnology collection at the museum. “Ultimately we decided that rather than focusing on the differences between these groups we would highlight their shared technologies. The Mediterranean Sea provided the perfect stage for this exhibit, as it was truly a focal point for the cultures we wanted to highlight. For centuries the region surrounding this body of water has been an area of great diversity, but it has also been an important melting pot as well. Many of the great civilizations of Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East developed along its shores and each one influenced the others.”

As discussed in the full release (available here), this will be the museum’s most ambitious exhibition from the Classics Collection and the first major exhibition of the collection staged in the museum’s impressive new facility.

While we are thinking about the SNOMNH Classics collections, I can also note the small digital exhibition that then-graduate assistant Rhonda S. Fair built during my time as SNOMNH Assistant Curator of Ethnology. Found here, it presents the museum’s Mark Allen Everett Collection of Ancient Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Pottery.

SNOMNH C-2001-1-7

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