Starving Eugene artists take heart: Your work may not be good enough for the Mayor's Art Show, but the Smithsonian might be interested.
That's the lesson Jenny "Chapoose" Taylor learned. In 2002 the Eugene artist submitted a bead weaving called "Nations" to the Mayor's Art Show. The piece was rejected and ended up in the Salon des Refuses exhibit for works that don't make the cut.
Through a series of events, curators in New York City and Washington, D.C., learned of Taylor's piece and "Nations" landed in the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, where it's now part of the permanent collection. The weaving, which contains more than 130,000 beads and took 1,500 hours to complete, will be on display through 2008.
"It doesn't feel like it's real, like it's really happened that I
have something amazing, that my artwork is a national treasure," says
Taylor, 54, who grew up on the Uintah-Ouray Indian Reservation in
northeastern Utah. "I think if I go there and actually see it and have
pictures and maybe get to meet the director it will feel like, `Yeah, I
am able to do something amazing.' "
Taylor, who works part time as a house cleaner and pet-sitter, has been saving money to make a trip to Washington, D.C., so she can see her work on display. She hopes to go in October and spend several days at the museum.
At first glance, "Nations" looks like a simple American flag, but words are hidden within the stars and stripes. The names of 446 tribes appear, along with the abbreviations for all 50 states. Taylor started making the piece while living in Seattle and says the concept came to her in a vision.
"I knew exactly how it was going to look," she says. "I had no idea how I was going to find a loom big enough to make it."
Taylor ended up using a custom-made loom to create her work, which measures 20 inches by 30 inches. She used a combination of transparent and opaque beads that makes certain areas of text invisible unless the piece is backlit.
Along with the names of tribes and states, the piece contains hidden quotes from Indian leaders and influential European colonists. Taylor's own words ("I am proud to be an American") also can be seen.
Red and white areas symbolize tears and drops of blood and the piece as a whole offers a statement about what it means be an American.
"I started out making this with anger and frustration and ended up having hope for unity between all people in the country and our world," Taylor says. "I know we can do anything one bead at a time, one person at a time."
Stacy Bierma, owner of Harlequin Beads and Jewelry in Eugene, says the piece is a remarkable example of original work performed on a grand scale.
"Even people who do (this kind) of bead work are either buying patterns or doing computer (generated) patterns," she says. "And the scale is 100 times as big as what some people are doing."
Taylor works with tiny Czechoslovakian seed beads using traditional loom beadwork techniques. And her pieces continue to grow. Her latest offering, a 192,000-bead work depicting the sun, is on display at Dani's Coffee & Espresso. She says her next piece will contain 267,000 beads.
American Indians didn't begin working with seed beads until European settlers arrived and began trading them, but seed beads quickly became a common form of adornment.
Taylor, a mixed blood member of the Bear Clan of the Ute Uintah band of American Indians, learned the technique from her aunt when she was 9 years old. Someday, she says, she hopes to return to the reservation where she grew up so she can teach beading to a new generation of artists.
Steve La Riccia, art coordinator for the Salon des Refuses, which has displayed three of Taylor's works, says "Nations" may have been rejected for the Mayor's Art Show for a variety of reasons.
One possibility is that it was lost in a sea of patriotic post-Sept. 11 art that came in for the 2002 show. It's also possible the piece was not deemed display-worthy by the jury, which tends to place an emphasis on presentation.
Whatever the reason, the piece apparently made an impression on viewers at the Salon des Refuses.
"People really gravitated to it," La Riccia says. "I had intentionally put it in a darkened area. Just seeing the glow of that light in that corner ... it was very well received."
"Nations" found its way to Washington, D.C., by way of a pair of retired artists who were on a quest to highlight West Coast artists, Taylor says.
They contacted the Museum of the American Indian, a New York City museum founded at the turn of the century by wealthy collector George Gustav Heye. That museum, which later provided the majority of the works in the Smithsonian's American Indian museum, expressed interest in the piece.
Taylor submitted her work and learned earlier this year that "Nations" had been accepted into the collection and would be hanging on the third floor of the museum. The work is displayed in a sealed case and backlit with a screen of light.
Taylor says it wasn't hard to say goodbye to her work knowing that it would be hanging in such a prominent location.
"I didn't want to sell it to a private collector," she says. "I'm not a salesperson, I'm a creative person. ... I wanted people to see it and heal."
This has been a spring and summer of getting around. 2005You can see those pictures:
We're off to Maine for a week of pictures and lobster! Day 5
The New York State Fair - lots of chickens and other animals.
A search for Rexford Falls and finding the Sherburne Historic District.
Antique Firetrucks in Liverpool.
Balloons at the Spiedie Fest.
A trip to Utica to see Munson-Williams-Proctor Museum and Fountain Elms
We rented a canoe at Nathaniel Cole Park.
A visit to Hanford Mills and the Lumberjack Show
Hancock Shaker Village.
A trip to Pixley Falls and Delta Lake.
We watched them set up the Big Top at the Circus
We went to the Utica Zoo
Then we went to the Syracuse Zoo
Wickwire House in Cortland
A trip to babysit the grandkids
A visit to Boston to see a Red Sox Game
Drive through Edmeston area to see the animals
Ithaca Herbert F. Johnson museum trip
And there are lots of pictures of our trip out west.
from other summers:
Our trip to Baltimore and Washington.
Baltimore people watching
Baltimore Orioles game
we're off to Washington, DC
Washington flowers are here
American Indian museum
Fireworks on the Fourth of July
Garden - heirloom tomatoes
Garden in June
A strange vine appeared
It's carrion flower - or Jacob's ladder.
We went to Meredith Dairy Days
Downy Woodpecker feeds its baby.
travel to Texas
Texas Day 1 San Antonio to Pearsall
Texas Day 2 Pearsall to Laredo
Texas Day 3 Laredo to Brownsville
Texas Day 4 South Padre Island
Texas Signs amused us
Art Museum at Vassar
Mid Atlantic: Longwood Gardens
Winterthur Children's Park
Old Stone Fort, Schoharie, NY
Cherry Valley, New York
CMOG Corning Museum of Glass -
House and Garden
In Autumn Before/After Exterior
Stone Quarry Hill Art Park 2