Review: The Thaw Collection at the IMA

Nepcetat (One-That-Sticks-to-the-Face) Mask from the Thaw Collection

The Indianapolis Museum of Art is hosting a highly engaging overview of American Indian art across the North American continent, organized by the Fenimore Art Museum of Cooperstown, N.Y. Originating from the comprehensive private collection of Eugene and Clare Thaw, Art of the American Indians: The Thaw Collection offers over 80 objects chosen from among 850, representing Tribal art from the Northwest Coast, Arctic and Subarctic, California and the Great Basin, Great Plains and Plateau, Southwest, and Woodlands.

Excellent labels and explanations, and videos of Tribal members engaged in visual and performing arts, bring the viewer into diverse cultural, political and social aspects underpinning Tribal art as a part of everyday objects, transmittal of tradition, and autobiography. Overall illuminating, there will be particular favorites, such as a miniature setee created around 1830 by a Wendot [Huron] weaver, radiant feather masks from the Arctic, a Hupa woman’s dance skirt with layers of finesse and a Lakota drawing book.

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