A Renaissance in Woodland Indian Art

“Corn Husk Family.” Copyright (c) 2013 Mary Lee Prescott. All Rights Reserved.

A Renaissance in Woodland Indian Art

An Oneida Indian artist carefully crafts a corn husk doll by hand inside her home.  By the end of the day, she finishes it and sets it next to a canvas oil painting she did several days before.  The painting shows a group of longhouses representing a traditional Oneida village in New York during the early 1700s.  With the corn husk doll and painting, the Oneida artist rounds out her art and crafts collection to be sold on the powwow circuit, as well as on consignment at an art gallery or two.  It is all in a day’s work for the Oneida artist, who not only takes pride in what she does, but also in the fact that she is among a growing cadre of other woodland Indian artists who have been working to promote a renaissance in woodland Indian art.

Woodland Indian art refers to art (as well as crafts) associated with American Indian Tribes with prominent cultural and historical connections to the eastern United States, generally east of the Mississippi River.

Wampum: Woodland Tribal Artists AssociationCharacteristics of such art include floral pattern designs, baskets made from unique woods, corn husk dolls and wampum jewelry, among other things.

For the past 20 to 30 years, an increasing number of elder woodland Indian artists have retired or died, while much of the younger generation where new artists can come has been pulled away by modern amenities such as video games, the Internet, sports, and so forth.  The only place it seemed that the general public could appreciate woodland Indian art was at museums or as a one-time exhibit at an art gallery, yet this all can be changing.

In recent years, there has been increasing momentum to keep woodland Indian art alive, as well as the culture, since the culture is reflected in the art.  Organizations promoting woodland Indian art, including teaching skills related thereto, have been starting up in the eastern US, such as the Woodland Tribal Artists Association, and the Woodland Indian Art Center.  All of this in an effort to promote a renaissance in Woodland Indian Art.

Check back for potentially more about this and other art news, or contact us.

Featured Image – Top:
“Corn Husk Family.” Copyright (c) 2013 Mary Lee Prescott. All Rights Reserved.

Bottom Image:
Wampum Jewlery: Woodland Tribal Artists Association
Wampum is made from the quahog shell found on the Eastern seaboard from New England to Florida.  The word “wampum” is an Algonquin term for these shell beads.

One thought on “A Renaissance in Woodland Indian Art

  1. Any cultural articulation that deserves to be called cultural, also deserves to be preserved and kept alive and handed down to the next generation – much more than the trade of banking for instance.

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