Please join us on January 25 to the Museum of Art’s first public lecture of the spring semester. Janet Catherine Berlo, Professor of Art History and Visual and Cultural Studies at the University of Rochester, will present “Narrative and Abstraction in Plains Indian Art, 1850 to the Present,” in conjunction with the exhibition Art from the Northern Plains. After her 4:30 p.m. lecture in Kresge Auditorium Visual Arts Center, we will hold a reception at the Museum.
Berlo is one of the most distinguished scholars of historic and contemporary Native American art. Having received a Ph.D. in the History of Art from Yale University, she is the author of numerous books, including Native North American Art (with Ruth B. Phillips; Oxford, 1998, 2015), Plains Indian Drawings 1865-1935 (Abrams, 1996), and Spirit Beings and Sun Dancers: Black Hawk’s Vision of a Lakota World (Braziller Books, 2000). She has taught Native American art history as a visiting professor at Harvard and Yale, and was a Guggenheim Fellow in 1999. In 2017, she was the Senior Scholar in Residence at the Georgia O’Keeffe Research Center in Santa Fe, where she worked on her current book manuscript, Not Native American Art: Falsifications, Misrepresentations, and Vexed Identities.
On the Great Plains of North America in the nineteenth century, men of Lakota and other tribes painted their military exploits and spiritual experiences on hide, muslin, and paper. Women more commonly beaded and painted abstract designs. Berlo’s lecture will focus on these two modes of expression, starting with nineteenth century objects such as winter counts, painted muslins, and beaded clothing and ending with a major work of multi-media installation art made by Canadian Lakota artist Dana Claxton in 2017. She will also consider the history of the Museum’s recently-acquired painting of a Sun Dance ceremony by an unidentified Lakota artist, a work that takes center stage in Art from the Northern Plains.