PostcarDC 1.11: Native Ambience

I love the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) on the National Mall. I first went to it a few years ago and thought, look how they are trying to do something with the teeny bit of land they have. Growing squash and corn in the middle of the DC Mall, has to be something out of this world! And I forgotten, as this shot shows how close to the tower of babel, this wonderful structure is.

I thought for a second, I could be on the prairie somewhere in Wisconsin, when I shot the bottom shot (directly above). I had never been on the Mall during the winter, and this one colder than most. How beautiful the weather defined the setting compared to that of Spring or Summer, with the greenness.

It was as if Feist was there with her famous line, “I come from Canada, where the winters go on, and on, and. . .” Douglas Cardinal, is a Canadian architect, of Métis and Blackfoot heritage and I wonder if he ever envisioned these physical changes: rock masses sitting in ice; the frozen cascading water.

My first impression of this shot, was how like those Northwestern totems this section resembled.

The beauty of form is always there in this beautiful  organic setting. The beautiful domelike center which seems to offer the only light one might need.

I love the fact that the space seems to be vast, but there are so many private areas. I wonder if this says something about this building being done now, rather than older structures  “borrowed” from those before us?

I loved a piece there called, Creation Story by Harry Conseca (third below). There are wonderful things to see, and always some show of art. Sometime it is sculpture, sometimes native dress. In this a nice contempory group of pieces entitled, Vantage Point.

In one exhibit, you pass through a corridor of native peoples passing on two parallel screens (directly below). There are also those tasteful touches of exhibit typical of the Smithsonian group (second below).

The term “Indian” art, is what of those blanket expressions, like Latino Art, African American Art, Women’s Art, which first implies a homogeniety about the work, rather than a commonality. It bothers me when a wonderful artist, like Eloy Torrez, is classified as a Latino artist, when his work draws from many sources.

Art does not get created in a vacuum, and so one of the more hip pieces in the Vantage Point show, had to be the one by Douglas Miles called Peacemaker 2004 (below). There is a lot of interesting art by young natives shown in museums in Santa Fe, but I could not photograph them!

Yaqui Flashback II by Mario Martinez (above) struck me as just a good contemporary piece, not necessarily in “context.”

A wonderful museum and for free! For more on the architect:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_Cardinal

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