Earlier this year the Toledo Museum of Art (TMA) acquired three significant Native American works of art for its growing collection of Indigenous Art from around the world. The objects are on display together in an installation titled Collecting Now: Recent Acquisitions in the Museum’s Canaday Gallery through Dec. 31, 2017. TMA purchased the objects from three separate galleries in Santa Fe and New York with funds from the Museum’s Georgia Welles Apollo Society.
“These stunning objects truly exemplify the collective spirit of the Apollo Society and the Museum’s collections policy to acquire works of the highest quality in a variety of media,” said TMA Director Brian Kennedy. “They also represent our goal to broaden our collecting practices to include more Indigenous works of art, historical to contemporary, from around the world.”
The objects include a woman’s manta (or shawl), tipi cover and pottery jar.
The Classic Acoma Embroidered Manta, constructed of dyed and natural handspun yarns, was embroidered at the Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico around 1850. Embroidered Acoma mantas are generally considered to be the rarest Pueblo wearing blankets, with only around 35 embroidered Acoma mantas in museums and private hands. This manta has a twill-woven undecorated brown/black center, with each end of the textile elaborately decorated with near mirror-image panels. The embroidered designs on the manta combine the Spanish floral motif with prehistoric design elements from the Anasazi. The iconography of the manta’s border includes abstracted depictions of parrots and water bugs.
The tipi became a fixture of Cheyenne society beginning in the 17th century, as the tribe transitioned from an existence as earth lodge dwelling farmers to buffalo-hunting warriors. For more than 300 years tipis served as the primary dwellings for the nomadic Cheyenne, and the spiritual power and social status associated with painted Cheyenne tipis was often ritually passed on for generations. The TMA work is a model tipi cover, created in the mid-19th century as a form of recording the Cheyenne’s visual and architectural traditions as their way of life was under ever-increasing threat from migrating settlers, railroad expansion and the U.S. government. This model tipi cover exemplifies the traditional Cheyenne tipi construction and pattern in its use of several sections of hide sewn together. The sky and the earth are symbolically depicted by the blue backgrounds on the top and bottom. The five horses shown in profile and mid-stride represent the cultural values of power, wealth, prestige and courage associated with the ownership of horses in the 19th century.
The Pueblo Indians of Arizona and New Mexico are known for a tradition of fine pottery that they have maintained for over a thousand years. TMA’s polychrome clay jar, which would have been used to store and transport wheat and corn, was created by the people of the Santa Domingo Pueblo, located halfway between Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Santo Domingo pottery can be identified by its dark black geometric designs, buff colored clay and cream slip. This late 19th-century jar is notable for its innovative design, painting technique and historic significance.
“TMA looks forward to sharing these very special objects of rich history and culture with our visitors,” said Halona Norton-Westbrook, TMA director of collections.
The Georgia Welles Apollo Society is named for the Museum’s Henri Matisse mural, Apollo, as well as its 1986 founders Georgia and David Welles. The Apollo Society has purchased more than 50 works of art for TMA over the past 30 years. Each year, the group works with one of the Museum’s curators to select one or more works to purchase for the Museum’s collections with their pooled membership dues.