Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Traveling to the Plateau

Beaded Moccasins - Yakima 1920
Yakima Valley Museum - Song of the Creator

This week I am distracted with plans for a family road trip to eastern Washington for my nephew's wedding. Heading to that desert country on the Columbia river reminds me of one of my favorite exhibits at the Museum of Art WSU where I worked while earning my MFA. The show was called A Song to the Creator: Traditional Arts of Native Women of the Plateau and featured historic as well as contemporary work by Native Women from the region. Contemporary native women artists came and gave demonstrations. I spoke with one of the beadwork artists, she told me, "Everything I make is a prayer". It made me feel wistfully as if I'd been born into the wrong culture. I want to look more deeply into spiritual expression through art in native cultures but for now will leave you with these moccasins and a Yakima color guide.

Red means East, where the sun rises, brings wisdom
Yellow means South, sun shines all the time, where the sun lives
Black means West, where darkness and death live, where the sun sleeps
White means North, where snow is all the time; winter, white and cold
Blue means Sky, where the great spirit lives
Brown means Earth
Green means green things grow on the earth.