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Martine Reid

(b Masset, Queen Charlotte Islands, BC, Nov 4, 1946).

Native American Haida sculptor, metalworker, printmaker and blanket-maker. He was the grandson of the Haida blanket- and basket-maker Florence Davidson (1895–1993), and great-grandson of the Haida wood-carver Charles Edenshaw. He began carving argillite as a teenager in Masset, and in 1966 he met Bill Reid, who offered him workshop space in Vancouver. There Davidson developed new carving skills and learnt the fundamentals of the two-dimensional (‘formline’) designs used by the Haida and other tribes of the northern Northwest Coast (see Native North American art, §III, 2). In 1969 he returned to Masset to carve a 12.2 m-high totem pole, the first heraldic column to be raised on the Queen Charlotte Islands since the end of the 19th century. In 1987 Davidson and his crew produced a set of three totem poles entitled Three Variations on Killer Whale Myths for the Pepsicola Sculptural Garden in Purchase, NY. In these totem poles Davidson worked within the strict conventions of the Haida style, refining it by introducing subtle variations in design but preserving a degree of conservative austerity in which movement and individual expression are sacrificed to overall unity of form. In his early work in silver Davidson used flat patterns influenced by Edenshaw, and he went on to develop these into an innovative style of his own in screenprints, silver and bronze. Davidson’s younger brother, ...

Article

Navajo  

Margaret Moore Booker

Tribe of Native Americans who call themselves Diné (“the people”) and whose Dinetah (homelands) are situated on a c. 15 million-acre-reservation in northeastern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico and southern Utah. The Navajo have rich artistic traditions in the Southwest dating back at least five centuries. Greatly influenced by Pueblo Indians of the region, the Navajo made textiles, basketry and pottery for utilitarian and religious purposes. Traditionally, it was the Navajo women who made pottery and wove textiles, while the men were silversmiths. The latter, who learned this art from the Spanish, led the way in the development of silver and turquoise jewelry in the Southwest. Their forms and decorative styles influenced other Native American jewelers.

The Navajo excel at weaving. Their earliest works were woolen blankets made on an upright loom and meant to be worn. After trading posts were established on the reservation in the early 1870s, the traders encouraged the Navajo to weave heavier textiles that could serve as rugs. Often given materials and designs by the traders to follow, the Navajo weavers made their own adaptations that evolved into the exquisite rugs they are famous for. A wide range of patterns and colors and a number of distinct regional styles exist (...