Haida art in Pennsylvania

  • Apr. 4, 2014 8:00 a.m.

A show called On the Wings of Eagle and Raven: Tlingit and Haida Traditions opens April 11 at the Arthur Ross Gallery, University of Pennsylvania. The Haida and Tlingit have a rich visual tradition that includes highly stylized artifacts and totems. These artifacts, in wood, shell, hair, pigment, sinew, feather and spruce root, reveal exceptional craftsmanship. This exhibitions features 41 from the late 19th century to the present. Under art history prof Larry Silver and history prof Robert St. George, Penn undergrads were involved in curating the exhibition and writing the exhibit brochure. The use of animal totems is an important aspect of Haida and Tlingit traditions. Their societies are organized into two matrilineal moieties: Ravens or Eagles. Within each moiety, the family lineage recognizes an animal to identify their clan. These clan crests appear on headdresses, bentwood boxes and Chilkat blankets.Since colonization of the region, Haida and Tlingit homelands were threatened. Christian missionaries sought to reform their beliefs, and potlatches were outlawed. Consequently, their language and art forms weakened. Today there is a resurgence artists who assert the lasting presence of their cultures.The show through July 6.

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