The Drawing Center, N.Y.
Nov.5 - Dec. 21, 1996
Little Shield, Arapaho. Pawnee Riffle (sic), before 1868. Pencil and ink.
A flash of light reflected from a subconscious reality burns an image into chemical fields inside your brain. Laying undeveloped in the darkroom of your visual memory it whispers of history. A history repressed in both--it's unique knowledge and beauty--and it's tragic cruelty. Unable to admit guilt and shame over misunderstandings, betrayals, and feelings of hate, the image is kept undeveloped in the darkroom of history as forgetting. The complex ambiguity is obvious--in most of the nearly 150 drawings in the exhibition, "Plains Indian Drawings," the drawings were made on the pages of ledger books taken or traded from white settlers and soldiers. Artists from the Lakota, Cheyenne, Kiowa and Arapaho tribes continued with their tradition of depicting personal histories and events.
Wohaw, Kiowa. By Steamboat up the St. John's River,
1877. Pencil and crayon.
Even in a period facing immense pressure from settlers and soldiers, they worked with the newly available materials over the grids of ledger pages and sometimes even the inventory notes. Traded or taken back from warriors killed on the battlefields or in raids, a third layer sometimes is adding a name, a title or a site to the drawing. What we see is an amazing amount of details and conceptual work. Most importantly the exhibition explores another white out of an unfinished map of the rich cultural history of the north American continent.
Julian Scott Ledger, Artist: A, Kiowa.
Honoring Song at Painted Tipi,
1880. Pencil, ink, and colored pencil.