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Woven Identities

JULY 29, 2012

For the first time in over 30 years, the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture opens a major exhibition of North American Indian baskets on Sunday, November 20, 2011. The exhibition runs through February 23, 2014.

All objects tell a story, if you know the right questions to ask. At the time the baskets in this exhibition were collected little to no information was recorded; the weaver’s names are largely unknown. Nonetheless, each basket has an identity, a woven identity. The identity of each basket—where it was made; when it was made; who made it; who it was made for; why it was made—by “reading” its individual characteristics.

To read a basket five principal traits must be taken into account: material, construction, form and design, and utility. Woven Identities is divided into five sections representing these essential and diagnostic Native American basketry traits. If you ever wanted to learn the language of baskets, begin your journey with this exhibition.

On exhibit are baskets woven by artists representing 60 cultural groups, today referred to as tribes, bands, or pueblos. The weavers’ ancestral lands are in six culture areas of Western North America: The Southwest, Great Basin, Plateau, California, the Northwest Coast, and the Arctic.

Baskets can be functional. Burden baskets were for carrying. The improbable task of cooking was done in baskets—heated stones were added to food and liquid contents in meal preparation. Water was carried and clams collected in others. Baskets also served as hats (especially, but not exclusively, to the tourist trade).

Yet, function does not trump beauty. Basket making techniques are inherently attractive. Among the baskets on view are examples of false embroidery, cross weave, plaiting, and coiling. Materials like wrapped twine, corn husk, roots, rhizomes, stems, branches, leaves, grass, and cedar bark add their own good looks.

Of the 241 baskets in the exhibition, only 45 have been attributed to individual artists. Woven Identities honors those weavers and the many others whose names we do not yet know.

High resolution exhibition images may be downloaded from the Museum of New Mexico Media Center.

Media Contact:

Valerie Verzuh, Curator

505-476-1296

valerie.verzuh@state.nm.us

Steve Cantrell, PR Manager

505-476-1144

steve.cantrell@state.nm.us

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Located on Museum Hill™, the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture shares the beautiful Milner Plaza with the Museum of International Folk Art.  Here, Now and Always, a major permanent exhibition at the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, combines the voices of living Native Americans with ancient and contemporary artifacts and interactive multimedia to tell the complex stories of the Southwest.  The Buchsbaum Gallery displays ceramics from the region’s pueblos.  Five changing galleries present exhibits on subjects ranging from archaeological excavations to contemporary art.  In addition, an outdoor sculpture garden offers rotating exhibits of works by Native American sculptors.

The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture is a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs.

Information for the Public

Location:  The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture is located on Museum Hill™, Camino Lejo off Old Santa Fe Trail.

Information: 505-476-1269 or visit www.indianartsandculture.org

Days/Times: Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.  Between Memorial Day and Labor Day the Museum is also open on Monday.

Admission: Adult single-museum admission is $6 for New Mexico residents, $9 for nonresidents; OR $15 for one-day pass to two museums of your choice (Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, Museum of International Folk Art, New Mexico Museum of Art, and Palace of the Governors/New Mexico History Museum) OR $20 four-day pass to the four museums listed above. Youth 16 and under, Foundation Members, and New Mexico Veterans with 50% or more disability always free

Sundays: New Mexico residents with ID are admitted FREE, Students with ID receive a $1 discount. Wednesdays: New Mexico resident seniors (60+) with ID are free. Field Trips: There is no charge for educational groups attending the museum with their instructor and/or adult chaperones. Contact the Tours office by phone at (505) 476-1140 or (505) 476-1211 to arrange class/group visits to the Museum.