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Listening to Our Ancestors: The Art of Native Life Along the North Pacific Coastby National Museum Of The American Indian
Synopses & Reviews
The totem poles and painted housefronts, masks and dance regalia, feast bowls and elaborately decorated boxes made by the Native people of the Pacific Northwest have long been recognized as masterworks of art, sophisticated in conception and execution and rich with symbolism. In this book, scholars Peter Macnair and Jay Stewart describe the treasures of the Northwest Coast collections of the National Museum of the American Indian, many of which have never been published before. In addition, Kwakwaka'wakw Chief Robert Joseph and curator Mary Jane Lenz explore the Northwest as a crossroads of Native and non-Native worlds, in the 19th and early 20th century, when many of these works were collected, and today.
Most significantly, in a series of community self-portraits, cultural figures from eleven Northwest Coast nations discuss the ways in which the museum's collections connect them with their forebears, who made and used these beautiful things. Illustrated with striking new images of important pieces, as well as other historic and contemporary photographs, Listening to the Ancestors invites readers to appreciate Northwest Coast art as its Native inheritors do-for the spirit with which it is endowed.
This book is being published in conjunction with the exhibition of the same title, on view at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., from November 2005 to January 2007. In keeping with NMAI's mission to bridge the distance between the museum and the people whose cultures it represents, objects from the exhibition will also be shown in the Native communities that took part in this project.
Illustrated with never-before-published artifacts from the unique treasures in the museum's Northwest Coast collections, Listening to Our Ancestors profiles native communities of the Pacific Northwest and showcases the region's rich cultural history and artwork.
Sophisticated in conception and execution and rich with symbolism, the totem poles, painted housefronts, masks, dance regalia, feast bowls, and elaborately decorated boxes made by the native people of the North Pacific Coast have long been recognized as masterworks of art. Here, in a series of community self-portraits, cultural figures from eleven Northwest Coast nations discuss the ways in which these masterpieces, as well as everyday tools and utensils from the museum's collections, connect them with their forbears, who made and used these beautiful objects. Kwakwaka'wakw Chief Robert Joseph and the community curators contrast the approach anthropologists and art historians have taken to the treasures of the Northwest with Native people's perspective on their cultural legacy. In addition, Mary Jane Lenz explores the Northwest as a crossroads of native and non-native worlds in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when many of these works were collected, and today.
With its striking images and community self-portraits, Listening to Our Ancestors invites readers to appreciate Northwest Coast art as its native inheritors do—for the spirit with which it is endowed.
Official companion to the exhibition opening at the National Museum of the American Indian in November 2005.
About the Author
Peter Macnair is an anthropologist and former curator at the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria. Curator Jay Stewart is director emeritus of the Campbell River Museum in Campbell River, British Columbia. Robert Joseph is a chief of the Kwakwaka'wakw Nation and C.E.O. of the Residential Schools Commission for British Columbia. Mary Jane Lenz is a curator at the NMAI.
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