New Lakota Painting at Art Museum Opens Window into American History – Bowdoin

by pmnationtalk on February 6, 2018127 Views

The Bowdoin Museum of Art has recently acquired a striking new work of art — a large Lakota muslin, painted by an unknown artist around 1895. The piece depicts a sun dance, an important religious ceremony that for centuries was observed by many Native Americans of the Great Plains. The dance was performed each summer as a rite of renewal for the community, but was banned by the US government in 1883. The law was not lifted until the 1970s.

The muslin painting, both through the scene it depicts and the story of its provenance, tells a story not only of the history and visual culture of the Lakota people, but also of the US’s inhumane treatment of indigenous people and — despite our government’s actions — the resilience of Native cultures today.

It was this historical and cultural significance, as well as its rarity and beauty, that led the Museum to seek out the piece. Each time the Museum makes a major acquisition, it gives careful consideration to an artwork that can illuminate, in a unique way, an important historical moment or artistic endeavor.

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