Kwakiutl-Dzunukwa Mask, One of the most masterful depictions of Dzunukwa, or Wild Woman of the Woods, an 1870 mask from British Columbia, Dzunukwa was a creature believed to carry off wandering or misbehaving children. Tlingit Swan Mask, A powerful wooden Swan Mask from the Tlingit tribe of Southeast Alaska, from the early 19th century, ca.
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art unveils a new suite of American Indian galleries honoring and giving new emphasis to the artistic achievement of Native peoples from across North America. The galleries showcase nearly 200 works of American Indian art, including a number of recognized masterworks. The Nelson-Atkins’ effort to expand the collection and reinterpret its presentation has been led by Gaylord Torrence, the Fred and Virginia Merrill Senior Curator of American Indian Art.
Active on behalf of the Kansas City community, Estelle and Morton Sosland have been involved with the Nelson-Atkins for nearly six decades. The Soslands began collecting American Indian art more than half a century ago, drawn to works from the Northwest Coast by their sculptural beauty and emotional power.
The Sosland Collection began with the purchase in the 1960s of a headdress frontlet from a New York dealer. One of the most masterful depictions of Dzunukwa, or Wild Woman of the Woods, an 1870 mask from British Columbia. For more than five decades, Morton and Estelle Sosland have had many roles at the Nelson-Atkins as volunteers, leaders and benefactors, including fund-raising efforts in support of the Generations Campaign and in behalf of the Museum’s campus expansion and endowment fund. During the 1990s, the Soslands led their family in commissioning Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen to create the Shuttlecocks sculptures that grace the Museum’s Kansas City Sculpture Park, now icons for both the Museum and Kansas City. The Nelson-Atkins has exhibited American Indian art since its inception in 1933, a time when few art museums were featuring this material.
Torrence built on the rich foundations of these early acquisitions and has led the Department in a significant expansion, bringing in new works from private collections, dealers and Native artists to join the Museum’s already distinguished collection. Each of the new galleries bears the name of principal supporters of this effort: John and Marilyn McConnell, John A. Previously the American Indian galleries were located within about 1,500 square feet on the third floor of the Nelson-Atkins. With these new galleries, the Nelson-Atkins assumes a leadership role in the promotion and display of American Indian objects as works of fine art, extending the tradition of the institution’s landmark 1977 exhibition Sacred Circles.
Sonya Kelliher-Combs, Common Thread, 2008-10, Reindeer and sheep rawhide, nylon thread, Variable dimensions, Collection of the artist. Sonya Kelliher-Combs, Small Secrets, 2009 (detail), Walrus stomach, human hair, glass bead, nylon thread, Variable dimensions, Collection of the artist, Photo by Kevin G. Nadia Myre, Scar Project (workshop photo), 2006, Third Space Gallery, Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, Photo courtesy of the artist.
Sonya Kelliher-Combs, Nadia Myre, and Michael Belmore each present bodies of sculptural and mixed-media work that explore skin as a surface — revealing, concealing, and defining.
A repeating motif in her work, the amorphous pouch form addresses containment and concealment. Born in Bethel, Alaska, in 1969 and raised in Nome, Kelliher-Combs has a bachelor of fine arts (1992) from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and a master of fine arts (1998) from Arizona State University, Tempe.
Nadia Myre (Anishinaabe) explores scars, both personal and communal, in her mixed media and video creations.
With Scarscapes, a series of five loom-woven beaded works and prints, she examines these motifs of pain and survival. Belmore’s work in hammered and chiseled copper explores the surface of the land with a more direct approach.
Belmore, a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, was born in 1971 north of Thunder Bay, Ontario.
Rosalie Favell (Cree Métis) is a photo-based artist, born in 1958 and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Terrance Houle (Blood) was born in 1975, resides in Calgary, Alberta, and holds a bachelor of fine arts (2003) from Alberta College of Art and Design.
Photo-based artist Arthur Renwick (Haisla) was born in Kitimat, British Columbia, in 1965, received fine arts degrees from both Vancouver Community College (1986) and Emily Carr University of Art + Design (1989) in Vancouver, and received his master of fine arts (1993) from Concordia University in Montréal. HIDE was organized by Kathleen Ash-Milby (Navajo), curator at the National Museum of the American Indian. Rosalie Favell, Ryan Rice, 2008, From the Facing the Camera series, Digital print, 61 x 50.8 cm, Collection of the artist. Rosalie Favell, Edward Poitras, 2008, From the Facing the Camera series, Digital print, 61 x 50.8 cm, Collection of the artist. Rosalie Favell, Candice Hopkins, 2008, From the Facing the Camera series, Digital print, 61 x 50.8 cm, Collection of the artist. Rosalie Favell, Nadia Myre, 2008, From the Facing the Camera series, Digital print, 61 x 50.8 cm, Collection of the artist. Sonya Kelliher-Combs, Red Reindeer Brand, 2009, Reindeer fur, acrylic polymer, cotton fabric, and metal grommets, 61 x 45.7 cm, Collection of the artist, Photo by Kevin G.
George Catlin, I-o-wáy, One of Black Hawk's Principal Warriors, detail, 1832, Sac and Fox, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. George Catlin, Buffalo Bull, Grazing on the Prairie, 1832–33, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs.
George Catlin, Buffalo Hunt under the Wolf-skin Mask, detail, 1832-33, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs.
George Catlin (1796-1872), a lawyer-turned-painter, decided in the 1820s that he would make it his life’s work to record the life and culture of American Indians living on the Plains. Clark became Catlin’s mentor, showing him his Indian museum, introducing him to the American Fur Trading Co. In 1832, Catlin made an epic journey that stretched more than 2,000 miles along the upper Missouri River. The installation features 287 paintings, portraits, landscapes and scenes of American Indian life. The Grand Salon installation, paintings hung floor to ceiling, recalls the Indian Gallery as Catlin displayed it in the 1840s while touring Europe.
Catlin’s quest turned into a lifelong obsession that shaped his subsequent travels and the course of his life.
In 1872, Catlin came to Washington at the invitation of Joseph Henry, the first secretary of the Smithsonian.
Catlin yearned to record the native cultures on the Plains, rather than making studio portraits of the delegations that traveled east to meet with the U.S. Clark became his mentor, showing Catlin his Indian museum, introducing him to the American Fur Trading Company, and taking him to visit Plains tribes. In 1832, Catlin took an epic journey that stretched over two thousand miles along the upper Missouri River. He visited 18 tribes, including the Pawnee, Omaha, and Ponca in the south and the Mandan, Cheyenne, Crow, Assiniboine, and Blackfeet to the north.
As Catlin traveled farther north in the territories, he encountered what he believed to be Indian tribes unspoiled by Euro-American civilization. The more time Catlin spent living with Native Americans, the more critical he became of U.S. Critics questioned the accuracy of Catlin’s depictions and sensational descriptions of the torturous Mandan O-kee-pa ceremony. Other early visitors to the northern Plains eventually confirmed the details, but questions about the veracity of Catlin’s work haunted him until his death.

When Catlin returned east in 1838, he assembled over 500 paintings and numerous artifacts into his Indian Gallery that he toured to major cities such as Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and New York. Visitors identified each painting by the number on the frame as listed in Catlin’s catalogue.
Catlin the showman and entrepreneur initially attracted crowds to his Indian Gallery in London, Brussels, and Paris. Increasingly sensational aspects such as mock battles and staged publicity stunts were incorporated into the show to attract visitors. Even more controversial was the addition of American Indians, members of the Ojibwe and Iowa tribes, who danced and sang. By 1852, Catlin was in such financial trouble that he had to sell his original Indian Gallery to meet his debts. George Catlin, Kee-o-kuk the Watchful Fox, Chief of the Tribe, 1835, Sac and Fox Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. We think that people use birds as logo because bird represent freedom and they are beautiful. The things that we found are the firefox fox, snoopy, and different logos for movies and teams. The use of the photo above is permitted for personal and private use as computer desktop wallpaper only. With more than 6,100 square feet, the three galleries will be among the largest devoted to American Indian art in any comprehensive art museum in the world and will quadruple the amount of space previously devoted to American Indian art at the Nelson-Atkins. This location reflects a bold philosophical shift at the Nelson-Atkins, defining the art of Native peoples as an essential part of our nation’s heritage. The scope encompasses pre-historic works of art to contemporary and embraces most of the North American native cultures. Sosland and his wife Estelle contributed greatly to the effort by giving the Museum their extraordinary collection of Northwest Coast art, considered one of the finest private American Indian Collections in the country. Their collection of American Indian art, built over the past 50 years, represents a commitment to connoisseurship that contains superb examples of Northwest Coast artistry, a region defined as the narrow strip of land bordered by the Pacific Ocean and the Cascade Mountains, from Vancouver Island to Alaska’s Yakutat Bay. Torrence arrived at the Nelson-Atkins in 2002 as founding curator of the Museum’s first Department of American Indian Art.
Soon after, they greatly expanded their holdings with the purchase of a private collection assembled by Denver Art Museum curator Norman Feder, a well-known scholar in the field. The Sosland Foundation supports social services, education, health and cultural efforts, and was responsible for establishing the Sanders Sosland Curatorship of 20th-Century Art at the Museum in the 1980s. They are international travelers who have collected not only American Indian art but also ethnographic works and contemporary art. Navajo textiles, Woodlands and Plains quillwork, beadwork and sculpture, Pueblo pottery, Southwestern jewelry, Northwest Coast sculpture and California and Plateau basketry are among the artistic traditions represented in the Museum’s collection.
This buffalo-skin coat embodies the dynamic cultural exchange that characterized the beaver trade during the North American Colonial period. Recognized as one of the leading contemporary Native American artists, Swentzell continues the long tradition of Pueblo figurative sculpture, which includes objects produced for both ritual purposes and the outside market.
This shield and cover (shown on front) from the Arikara is embellished with the image of a buffalo bull, the owner’s guardian spirit, which would have been revealed to him in a vision during a prolonged period of fasting and prayer.
This collaborative work continues the long Northwest Coast tradition of woven and painted basketry rain hats.
Its highly stylized, precisely painted figure is adjusted perfectly to fit the hat’s finely woven, conical form. Those acquisitions include a large number of contemporary works, including masterworks by living artists. The new galleries are located in space previously occupied by the Modern & Contemporary galleries, which were moved to the Bloch Building when the expansion opened in 2007. Our own skin functions as a canvas that we can inscribe with messages about our identity or use as a shield to protect and hide our secrets. The work of these artists awakens the senses, drawing the audience into a tactile experience of the materiality of their work as well as making them think about the complex ideas that emerge from this compelling art. Through various media, the artists use and depict skin, questioning identities and stereotypes and evoking images of landscapes, shields and fragility. The only artist in the exhibition who incorporates animal hides and innards into her work, she creates compelling semi-transparent and opaque skins and ambiguous forms. Each repeating shape, as a two-dimensional silhouette or sculptural form, has its own individual contour, color, and personality. Landscape of Sorrow expands her vision to address generational and community experiences in relationship to the land. In his work with stones, he has concentrated less on the absolute form of each rock and more on the relationships between them, where their surfaces, ground smooth by the artist, meet.
In Dark Water, Origins, and Shorelines, he has transformed inert, heavy metal sheets into thin, undulating membranes. In addition to receiving several grants and awards from the Winnipeg Arts Council, Manitoba Arts Council, and Canada Council for the Arts, twenty pieces from Adams’ Cyborg Hybrid series are in the permanent collection of the National Art Gallery in Ottawa. A graduate of Ryerson Polytechnic Institute in Toronto (bachelor of applied arts, 1984), Favell holds a master of fine arts (1998) from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. Renwick creates thoughtfully crafted works that combine photography with wood, aluminum and copper. Sense received a bachelor of fine arts (2003) from California State University, Chico, and a master of fine arts (2005) from Parsons, The New School for Design in New York City.
A facsimile of the booklet Catlin produced for his tour to assist visitors in identifying each painting has been re-created for this installation.
In pursuit of his goals, this artist also became an explorer, historian, anthropologist, geologist, collector, journalist, author, lecturer and promoter. On his trips, Catlin wanted to record not only a way of life but also the noble faces of the American Indians he encountered.
Louis coincided with the beginning of the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which forced the migration of Indians from the land east of the Mississippi. The unique nature of Catlin’s record also caused him problems, since the smallpox epidemic left few Mandans to verify his account.
Unfortunately, the Indian Gallery did not attract the paying public Catlin needed to stay financially sound, so in 1839 he took his Indian Gallery across the Atlantic for a tour of European capitals.
Catlin initially included live grizzly bears, but they proved so destructive they were replaced with paintings.
Catlin was accused of exploiting the Indians, but he defended his actions by claiming he was rescuing them from unscrupulous promoters. Industrialist Joseph Harrison purchased the collection, which then languished in his steam boiler factory in Philadelphia. The Smithsonian now holds many of Catlin’s paintings, artifacts, papers, maps and books, thereby creating this singular historic resource.
The styles of art practiced in Oceania are stone work, painting, and cultural art like masks and serimonial head dressings.
For image licensing and purchasing of prints, please visit the gallery page for this photo. This dramatic work conveys the convincing impression of a half-animal, half-human creature of the forest, From the Estelle and Morton Sosland Collection. The beak is hinged with leather, which would have allowed it to open during performances, giving the mask a lifelike appearance in the firelight.

While the cultural and historical significance of each object is acknowledged, the primary focus of the installation is artistic quality, in contrast to displaying works as cultural artifacts or historical relics of past civilizations. The Sosland Collection prioritizes the aesthetic rather than anthropological value of each object, a philosophy reflected in the Nelson-Atkins galleries. Many works in the collection have been exhibited in important exhibitions across the country, including Sacred Circles at the Nelson-Atkins in 1977, now considered a landmark in the recognition of American Indian art. This carved wooden frontlet would have been worn on the forehead as the primary element of an elaborate ceremonial headdress.
It is considered one of the finest argillite carvings within the tradition off model poles begun around 1880.
She held that position during the 2007 opening of the Bloch Building, the acclaimed expansion of the Museum.
The company, started in Kansas City in 1922 to serve the food and grain industry, is now in its fourth generation of family management and ownership. It reflects a complex blending of Woodland and Plains Indian artistic traditions as well as European fashion, patterned after an English officer’s coat of the period of George III. The intensity of the artist’s experience is conveyed through the precise delineation of form, the handling of paint, and the dramatic depiction of the animal itself, with upswept horns and unwavering gaze.
Both makers, the weaver and the painter, are recognized as contemporary masters of their respective arts.
Video works by Myre and Houle will run in the gallery throughout the entire course of the exhibition. Constructed with animal hide and gut, they have an eerie, taxidermic quality that is familiar yet foreign. Begun as a personal exploration of her own scars, the project grew into a cooperative endeavor.
She has extensive teaching experience at the post-graduate level, and is currently completing a PhD at Carleton University in Ottawa. Houle has received numerous awards including an invitation to participate in the 2003 Thematic Residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts, the Best Experimental Film award at the Toronto 2004 ImagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, and the 2006 Enbridge Emerging Artist Award. In addition to having received numerous Ontario Arts Council and Canada Council awards, Renwick won the K. Sense has worked as an administrator, curator, project director, and educator at various art institutions, including the American Indian Community House Gallery in New York City, the Hammer Museum at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Louis became Catlin’s base of operations for the five trips he took between 1830 and 1836, eventually visiting 50 tribes.
Each painting has a number on its frame that corresponds with an entry in the booklet, which lists the title of the painting and an anecdote about the subject or the place where it was painted. After several failed attempts to persuade various officials, he toured with it in Europe in the 1840s, where he often featured Native Americans dancing, creating the earliest version of what would later become the Wild West show. Although trained as a lawyer in Connecticut, he defied his father’s wishes and chose to follow his dream of becoming a portraitist and history painter, and in particular, a painter of Native Americans. In 1830, Catlin visited General William Clark, governor of the Missouri Territory and superintendent of Indian affairs in St. Louis became Catlin’s base of operations for five trips he took between 1830 and 1836, eventually visiting fifty tribes.
There was an urgency to Catlin’s quest, for the cultures he was so anxious to record were being irrevocably altered. Note all photos are the copyrighted works of Tommy Huynh and have been registered with the U.S.
Animal skin, porcupine quills, wool cloth, silk ribbon, bird claws, brass bells and buttons, glass beads, metal cones, feather and animal hair.
This dramatic effect would have been intensified by the reflective abalone shell inlays, From the Estelle and Morton Sosland Collection. Over the years, significant pieces were selectively added and the collection expanded to include contemporary Northwest and Arctic basketry. Reid has created an intricately detailed and complex carving that depicts an eagle, frog, human figures, bear mother and cubs and killer whale. Sosland’s uncle, Samuel Sosland, endowed the curatorship of American Art at the museum. As a trustee, she served on various committees and was chair of the Committee on Collections, a group that reviews acquisitions and gifts to the Museum. It is a symbolic reminder of historical misrepresentation, exploitation, and racial politics. Kelliher-Combs’s empty pouches seem to have once covered some form or shape that has now vanished, and they appear as ghostly, empty shells. She organized workshops for people to create their own scar canvases and write their personal stories. These materials are important to understanding his work, bringing into account how we view nature as a commodity. Favell has received several awards including the Ontario Arts Council Chalmers Arts Fellowship and the Canada Council for the Arts Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award. She is a practicing artist and muralist, and has completed four murals in Louisiana and California. 42 years ago a group of Venetians, both amateur and professional rowers, came up with an idea of non-competitive race in which any kind of rowing boat can take part. We can trace this interest back to the early 1820s when he witnessed a delegation of Indians visiting Philadelphia, where he was supporting himself by painting miniatures.
Most recently, works were acquired at auction and from the collection of George Terasaki, a preeminent dealer and authority on Northwest Coast works.
The artists selected for Hide draw upon this subject in multi-faceted ways, using both the material and concept of skin as a metaphor for widespread issues surrounding identity and personal, historical, and environmental trauma and perseverance.
They are perfect containers for her to wrestle with secrets that are unspeakable or forced into hiding. Belmore’s work has warranted numerous awards from the Ontario Arts Council, Canada Council, and Canadian Native Arts Foundation. As a result, copyright infringements can and will be prosecuted to seek statutory damages (of up to $150,000 USD per infringement) plus legal fees.
For many early years, she was a volunteer in the Museum’s Sales and Rental Gallery, which featured the work of regional artists and offered art for sale or rent at a time when Kansas City had few fine art galleries. He currently serves on the boards of the Sosland Foundation, H&R Block Foundation and Hall Family Foundation.
In addition, such infringements may be ruled criminal offenses under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
He previously held a wide range of civic responsibilities and also has been a member of numerous corporate boards. Sosland is a lifelong Kansas City resident who attended Notre Dame de Sion and is a graduate of Smith College.

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