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M

ATRIARCH

OF

C

ROW

A

RTI STS

. M

ARY

L

OU

B

IG

D

AY

Trading Post Times

Page 2

Crow artist, Mary Lou Big Day is

one our favorites. As a person,

and as an artist.

“I was still a girl when I mar-

ried... at sixteen," says Mary Lou.

"My mother-in-law was like an-

other mother to me. She taught

me beadwork, and how to make

moccasins and clothing, as well

as how to dry and store meats."

Today, Mary Lou’s dolls are in

great demand.

Her dolls are reminiscent of a

time in American Indian history

after European contact and fea-

ture wool trade cloth, glass beads,

and abalone shells as well as nat-

ural materials like buckskin,

feathers, and horse hair.

The female dolls are often

clothed in traditional red, blue,

or green elk tooth dresses and

carry coup sticks to show her

husband’s accomplishments in

battle; they also wear elk tooth

necklaces to represent a lost

loved one. The male dolls wear

buckskin shirts adorned with

hair locks, and trade cloth

breechcloths and leggings.

According to Mary Lou, the

painting of the face is consid-

ered very sacred. The faces of

her dolls do not have features

(eyes, nose, mouth), instead

they are painted with earth

pigments in a design inspired by

a vision had by her father-in-

law.

Mary Lou and her husband

Heywood, a Crow tribal elder,

travel far and wide to teach

people about the Crow heritage.

She is a recipient of the prestig-

ious Indian Arts and Crafts

Artist of the Year award.

This quiet woman is a show-

stopper wherever she appears,

and we are proud to feature this

great woman’s work at River

Trading Post.

.

Mary Lou Big Day delivers a tradi-

tional Crow blessing at the IACA

Artist of the Year ceremony

Mary Lou

Big Day’s

dolls are

reminiscent

of Europe-

an contact

with the

American

Indian.

What is American Indian Art?

To many people, American Indian art seems to be frozen in another time. The classic Navajo

weaving, the Pueblo pottery and Hopi Kachina dolls are fabulous work from another era that

remains vibrant today.

But today, American Indian art is evolving as artists reach out to exciting and new ways to ex-

press their cultural traditions through art in a way that connects to our 21st century.

Today, the American Indian artist is breaking new ground by working with new media and art

forms ranging from high fashion to quilting and glass. Yet each piece connects with the artist’s

native heritage.

Navajo Girls Go To Balls Too

has taken nearly every award possible for Navajo artist JT.Willie,

including the 2013 IACA Artist of the Year award. This breathtaking dress is very contemporary,

but is designed using very traditional elements.

Navajo artist Susan Hudson , a member of the U.S Corps, and descendent of Navajo leader Nar-

bona takes top awards for quilting.

Stars Among the Shunkaa Wakon

is a dazzling quilt that in-

cludes the names of Hudson’s own ancestors and those that endured the Navajo’s Long Walk to

Bosque Redondo in 1864.

Tony Jojola breaks tradition with his spectacular glass art. Tony was a traditional Jemez Pueblo

potter who discovered the wonders of the fluidity and permanence of molten glass art. His me-

dium is anything but traditional, but his art always touches base with his pueblo heritage and con-

sistently wins American Indian art awards.

American Indian art is alive and well today. It is new, it is vibrant, and it strives to connect the

modern art world to the ages old heritage and traditions. In a sense, contemporary American

Indian art is very new, yet it is very old indeed.

B

REAKING

T

HE

B

OUNDS

OF

I

NDIAN

A

RT

T

RADITION

Navajo Girls Go To Balls Too

JT Willie, Navajo

Stars Among the Shunkaa Wakon

Susan Hudson, Navajo

Bear

Tony Jojola, Jemez Pueblo