This timely article showcases a talented group of Native artists using the medium of beadwork. You will see exquisite examples of this tradition in our exhibition, Grand Procession: Contemporary Plains Indian Dolls from the Charles and Valerie Diker Collection on view through April 17, 2020.
Posted in Vogue Online April 24, 2019
“Indigenous people have practiced the craft of beadwork for centuries. Pre-colonization and before the prevalence of glass beads, they often adorned themselves with their own version of beads, making them through a laborious process out of bones, shells, teeth, copper, and other materials. When European settlers arrived in the 1800s, however, they introduced glass beadsâ€”originating from Venice, Italyâ€”to the trading markets. These glass beads, which were available in bulk and much finer in size, became favored by Native craftspeople. This was a classic example of how Native people took an element deemed â€śsuperiorâ€ť to their traditional materials, and then completely mastered it and made it their own.
Today, there is a new crop of beaders who are now taking on the craft, which has been passed down through generations, and completely modernizing it. Their works simultaneously keep their cultureâ€™s traditions alive while proving that artists can break free from their tribeâ€™s respective signatures and create pieces that are, yes, even trendy.”