Tuesday, December 16, 2008

New Art Collection Obtained by SHI

In December 2008 the Sealaska Heritage Institute obtained three new art items for inclusion in our ethnographic collection. These items were obtained by SHI from Art Peterson of Douglas, Alaska who had owned them for over 20 years. These three art items now constitute SHI’s Art Peterson Collection (AR 34) and will be preserved and presented to the public for generations to come. Below is a brief description of these items as well as photographs of each.

Item 1: Consists of a Warrior’s Mask and measures approximately 9.5 inches by 7 inches. It contains no paint, the reverse contains the original price tag, a date of 1974, and a small booklet discussing Leo Jacobs, Sr. and the movement of producing affordable Northwest Coast art. This movement emerged during the early 1970s wherein the Northwest Art Company hired a few accomplished carvers and artists and paid them to produce quality art for trade, with the aim of making quality art available at affordable prices.

Item 2: This piece was created by Leo Jacobs, Sr. and consists of a small but delicately carved Frog Woman Mask that measures 3.5 inches by 3 inches. It is carved, no paint is present, and the woman has an abalone inlay labret. The reverse of the mask contains the original price tag and identifying information about Jacobs and the mask itself, and is dated 4/6/1974.

Item 3: This Nathan Jackson carving consists of a decoratively carved and painted Raven Helmet measuring 19 inches long and 9 inches wide at the largest points. It is carved, contains abalone inlays for the eyes, has human hair, and is painted in shades of red, black, and blue. Inside the helmet are leather straps for fashioning the helmet to the wearer’s head and the carved signature of Nathan Jackson and the date of 1970.

Of importance, according to Nathan Jackson, he made this helmet for himself especially to perform with the Marks Trail Dancers (Jackson was a member of this dance group) at the 1971 Smithsonian Folklife Conference in Washington, DC. While in Washington, DC the Marks Trail Dancers were invited to perform in the Rotunda in the US Capital Building and later before a Senators reception gathering, where the Marks Trail Dancers performed a Sorrow Song for those suffering in and from the Vietnam War. The helmet was later retained by Jackson for a few years before he sold it to Art Peterson in the 1970s.

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