Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Heard Museum with Terry and Marianna

I drove to Phoenix to meet with Terry and Marianna and to spend the entire day at the Heard Museum with them. 

(Terry and Marianna)

The artwork:  Floating Weft Mosaic, an extraordinary image reflecting a fusion of Navajo Weaving and handmade ceramic tiles.

The mission of the Heard Museum: To be the world's preeminent museum for the presentation, interpretation and advancement of American Indian art. 

(Me and Marianna) 

Marianna is my sister Mary's best friend.  She is also the author and creator of the Blog, Hattie's Web, that you will find listed with other blogs over there to the right of this posting.  Marianna's husband, Terry, was in Phoenix on business and it gave us a chance to get together, enjoy some art and indulge in some gossip about my sister.  (TeeHee, this will drive my sister crazy.)

The Museum was founded by Dwight and Maie Heard in 1929 as a small museum in a small Southwestern town.

Both Phoenix and the Museum have grown exponentially and the Heard is surely the best native American art museum I have yet to encounter.

"Tse-Ping" 1991
Roxanne Swentzell, Santa Clara Tewa

"Tse-ping means Bellybutton.  In the Tewa world, the bellybutton is the center of the world.  Each pueblo has a bellybutton.  It is in the middle of the plaza.  It is the rock of where we come from.  The Belly Button is reminding us of where we come from.  In Tse-ping the bowl is the center of the earth and is like the bellybutton.  We are all centered around the bowl.   Because of that we all become one family."

In 1964, Senator Barry Goldwater donated his collection of more than 400 Katsina dolls to the Heard Museum.
"My fondest wish for the future of this collection is that students of all ages will be able to visit and study it and emerge with a full understanding of what the Katsina means."  Senator Goldwater

"Songs the Katsinas sing in Hopi tell us how we should treat each other.  They tell us how we should treat the land and how we are going to get blessed if we become the humble people that we should be."  Ruby Chimerica, Hopi

"Katsinas are the spirit messengers of the universe, representing all things in the natural world as well as Hopi ancestors.  After death, a Hopi continues a spiritual existence as a life-sustaining Katsina.  When Katsinas appear as rain clouds, they bring prayers for nourishment of the earth, moisture and a long life for all mankind."

This was my favorite Katsina.  Marianna noticed that we were wearing matching outfits.  (I'm thinking of changing my hairstyle.) 

"The cultural and religious belief of Hopi is that Katsinas bring the dolls in their likeness as gifts for young girls.  Each gift represents a prayer wish for good health, growth and fertility."

The Hopi Barbie Doll.  Aren't these much more imaginative than Ken and Barbie?

The pottery was exquisite....

Some of the designs were so fine and delicate that the required brushes were created from no more than three human hairs!

From the 14th through the 16th centuries, black-on-yellow pottery of the Hopi region was one of the most widely traded ceramics of its time.   

At the turn of the last century  metal pots, pans and bowls from the Europeans became so prevalent that clay pottery declined.   

Recently the art form has revived and  become so popular that pots and bowls are no longer, solely, a 'woman's product'.  The art form is now pursued by men as well.

Mohave Cape, late 1800s

The Mohave began to make beaded collars in the early 1880s.  Blue and white were the most popular colors for collars.  The glass trade beads became available through contact with explorers, settlers and soldiers.  Mohave refer to the design on this cape necklace as a turtle shell design.   


Many pueblo homes have outdoor beehive-shaped ovens used for special occasions.  The ovens were introduced by the Spanish and are used to bake leavened wheat bread also brought and taught by the Spanish.

The Storyteller, 1972-1976
Helen Cordero, Cochiti

"Helen Cordero started a resurgence of figurative pottery following the creation of her first storyteller figure in 1964 that represented her grandfather.  Her figures are distinctive not only for their whimsical nature, but also for the details of the painted clothing and jewelry."

The following jar stopped me in my tracks.  It was very large and absolutely seamless...

Hopi Jar, 1984-1987
Preston Duwyenie

"The pottery I make is a collaborative work between myself and the clay.  It was through unsuccessful attempts in my earlier years to produce such a pot that Clay Woman taught me patience. She tells me to go slow and create one coil at a time and allow that to stand and stiffen before I add another piece.  I received her teachings in that way and, in order to produce that piece of artwork, it has taken numerous years of trial and error. 
Being attuned to Clay Woman's teachings, listening to it and feeling it within the heart, that is how I learned patience."  Preston Duwyenie

Please note the train in that basket.

Carvings of railroad men, c 1900
Unknown Hopi artist

"Native peoples responded to new and curious things that the railroads brought to the Southwest.  In these examples Hopi carvers made railroad men out of traditional cottonwood root, adding commercial fabric for clothing.  The standing figure holds paper plans behind his back."

This very old and very finely woven basket was completely water-proof for carrying liquids.

JAR, 1915-1923
Sara Fina Tafoya, Santa Clara Pueblo

This large blackware jar contains a bear paw design Sara Fine used on pottery she made.

BASKET, c 1850
Unknown Chumash artist

Again, this basket was waterproof.

 PENDANT, early 1900s
Spondylus shell, turquoise, jet

As I wandered and wondered at the amazing art, the attention to detail, the appreciation of nature and its elements, the love of color, the precision of the workmanship...

....I thought, how much the Europeans tried to destroy.  The values displayed in this culture need to be revered, protected and emulated.

When I reached the exhibit on the Indian Schools I cringed....

"Transfer the SAVAGE BORN INFANT to the surroundings of civilization and he will grow to possess a civilized language and habit."  Captain Richard Pratt, 1879

Children were forcefully taken from their families and shipped by train to cities far to the east and put into Christian-run schools to 'civilize them'.  The children usually did not know what was happening and spoke only their native tongues.  Their hair was cut short--in most of the tribes hair was only cut when someone very close had died. For many they believed their families had died.  I cannot imagine the trauma they felt.

"When one Indian boy or girl leaves this school with an education, THE INDIAN PROBLEM WILL FOREVER BE SOLVED for him and his children."
Chancellor Lipincott of University of Kansas, Sept, 1884

Years later when the children were completely 'anglicized' they were allowed to return to their families.  If they had been very young when taken then they would no longer speak the native tongue. They were missing an education in their own culture, crafts, music, history, etc.  What was lost due to this travesty is unfathomable.

This is a lovely and great museum.  

A 'selfie'--me on the right.

BASKET, 1890-1900 
Unknown artist
Made with willow, martini, quail feathers and wool yarn.


  1. This is really fine, and you got some great photos. That is such a good little camera you have.
    My maternal grandmother's maiden name was Cordero, and they were a mestizo family going way back to Father Serra's expedition into California.

  2. The camera is a very inexpensive little Canon that is now 5 years old. I like that it is not too complicated. Someday, I may read the instruction book on it...I hate to rush things.