Native American art on display

PROVO, Utah — An ongoing exhibit at BYU's Museum of Art celebrates the important Native American connection between man and the natural world.

"Untamed Spirits: Animal Imagery in Native American Art" focuses on the changing representations of animal imagery and materials in ancient and contemporary Native American art. The exhibit was organized by the Montclair Art Museum and will be on display until March 16, 2002.

Animals are common themes in historical and contemporary Native American art forms. They were believed to possess characteristics capable of empowering humans through their depiction upon utilitarian objects: clothing, adornments and ritual objects. Whether molded from clay, carved into animal horns, woven of grasses or wool or illustrated with beading or quill work, images of frogs, bears, birds, lizards, fish and other creatures have meanings beyond their decorative value. Frogs, for example, are associated with water and rain; bears are believed to have knowledge of the medicinal value of roots and herbs.

"Untamed Spirits" includes objects made in the late 19th century as well as contemporary ceramics and other forms. They are representative of many native cultures of North America and are all appreciated for their intrinsic aesthetic value. "Untamed Spirits" conveys ancient myths told through objects crafted from simple, natural materials. The exhibition includes more than 70 pieces of Native American art and artifacts from major Native American societies across the country.

"Animal images and materials have threaded their way through centuries of Native American art and culture," said in-house curator, Dawn Pheysey. "Yet their form and use have undergone continual change and adaptation."

"Untamed Spirits" was made possible, in part, through the support of the New Jersey State Council of Arts/Department of State, PNC Bank and museum members.

The exhibit is available free of charge for public viewing.

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