November 25, 2022

Native American Sampler (Part II)

         Today I have more relief block prints by Native American artists, as a token of appreciation during Native American Heritage Month.  This time I’ve got a collection of animals, which of course makes me very happy.  The turtle is simply delightful, and the piece is made even cooler because its title is written below in the Cherokee syllabary invented by Sequoia, which makes it even farther up my alley.  Dagsi is a terrapin, and in addition to the beautiful shell and head, there’s a suggestion of edge of a pond, all in bold, clean strokes.
        The rooster crowing up the morning sun is probably a reduction block print.  The tail feathers make wonderful use of all the overlapping colors (white paper plus yellow, ochre, green, and blue) and solid versus textured carving.  It was made by a Sikangu Lakota (Rosebud Sioux) artist.  Although the next piece also shows a bird facing to the left, with feathers spread, it is stark black and white while the rooster is brightly multicolored, flat shapes while the rooster has textures, and rounded shapes while the rooster is sharp and angular.  The Inupiaq (Alaskan Inupiat) artist of this piece has entitled it Bird Forms, so I 
don’t know what species of birds they are intended to represent, or even if they are intended to be specific species at all.  To me, however, it looks like a raven stealing an egg from a goose.
        This wild boar is not so much to my taste over-all, but at the same time I think the carving style and rough skritchiness of it works well to evoke the bristly boar, the prickly cactus, and the spiky desert grasses.  It comes from a Mescalero Apache artist.  Today’s final piece is from a Bering Strait Inupiaq artist, and once again we have a wonderful contrast between the two.  This last one is multiple shades of warm browns instead of severe black, and all smooth round curves instead of sharp slashes and gouges.  I love that this piece so clearly evokes seals, even though when I try to pinpoint the head or exact anatomy of the animals, they disappear into the waves of the woodgrain with a perfectly seal-like slipperiness.
        Which of today’s pieces is your favorite?  Which animal is your favorite?  What animal would you choose to carve, and how would you depict it?  For myself, of course I’ve done block prints of about a hundred different animals or more, so I certainly wouldn’t be able to pick just one!

[Pictures: Dagsi Power, linoleum print by America Meredith, c 2020 (Image from America Meredith Art);

The Early Morning, woodblock print by Leonard Leader Charge, 1965-70 (Image from Smithsonian);

Bird Forms, woodblock print by Melvin Olanna, 1975 (Image from Smithsonian);

Wild Boar, woodblock print by Wallace Rice, Sr., 1965-6 (Image from Smithsonian);

A Dream in Anchorage, woodblock print by Peter John Seeganna, 1973 (Image from Smithsonian).]

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