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          CMA displays diverse quantity of American Indian artwork

          Amanda Brown

          Issue date: 3/19/10 Section: Focus
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          Horse Mask, proposed to have been created in the northwestern U.S. at the end of the 19th century, is one of a multitude of works gathered from across the nation, detailing the lives and traditions of the American Indian.
          Horse Mask, proposed to have been created in the northwestern U.S. at the end of the 19th century, is one of a multitude of works gathered from across the nation, detailing the lives and traditions of the American Indian.
          [Click to enlarge]
          Stories and folklore of American Indians have fascinated people for many years, and now there is a chance to see those stories come to life. The Cleveland Museum of Art has opened a new exhibit in their special galleries. Art of the American Indians: The Thaw Collection opened on March 7 and runs until May 30. The traveling exhibit features 145 works from the Eugene and Clare Thaw Collection of American Indian Art from the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, New York. The exhibit is free to the public, and tours are offered on Thursdays at 1:30 a.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. for people who are interested in learning more about the collection.

          The enticing entrance to the exhibit is flanked by House Interior Posts created by a Tongass Tlingit artist from Southeast Alaska. The posts are carved out of red cedar from around 1820-40, displaying evocative images from Tongass Tlingit legends. They are imposing to see as they reach up to nearly touch the museum's high ceiling.

          The first room showcases the art of the Northwest Coast. The subjects presented in the art of this region are very similar to the art found in Arctic cultures. One of the works that could easily catch the eye is Robe with Diving Whale. The robe shows how people living on the Northwest Coast would have observed whales, and thus incorporated them into daily life.

          Nearby is a carved raven mask that dates from about 1870. The mask is somewhat typical for the area, since it is carved out of wood that plentifully available to the artists. An interesting fact about some of the masks and carvings found throughout the exhibit is that they incorporate human hair into the work. A pair of Lightning Serpent masks is found in another case. They are placed facing one another, with a different side of the face shown on each. These masks were carved out of yellow cedar wood and are beautifully crafted and decorated.
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