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Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art

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Beach Museum of Art
Kansas State University
14th St & Anderson Ave
Manhattan, KS 66506



Earth and Loom: A Century of Native American Art from the Collection of Dennis and Carola Deschner

October 28 - December 21, 2014

“Earth and Loom: A Century of Native American Art” highlights critical moments of change within two distinct and vibrant artistic traditions. The Pueblo communities in New Mexico and Arizona are descended from ancestral pueblo people who have been making pottery for thousands of years. The archaeological record shows change and innovation in pottery designs through time and across regions. Similarly, within Navajo weaving design there have been moments of major change, often sparked by social or political events.

A promised gift by Carola and Dennis Deschner provides the many fine examples of Native American art that form this exhibition. These works illustrate how design evolution was influenced by shifting relationships among artists and collectors during the critical period following the Gadsden Purchase in 1854, when the United States acquired territory from Mexico that eventually became part of Arizona and New Mexico. Increasing Anglo-American migrations into the Southwest and the gradual development of a tourist market fueled artistic innovation and design evolution.  

Innovations in the Pueblo pottery tradition were often inspired by individual potters who found inspiration in ancestral forms and designs. Nampeyo of Hano and Maria Martinez are the two best-known of the innovative potters who inspired generations of artists to follow in their footsteps by expressing their artistic creativity while respecting their cultural traditions and ancestral inheritance. 

The earliest Navajo weavers created finely spun wearing blankets that were prized trade items for hundreds of years before the Anglo-American expansion brought tourists by car and rail. After the establishment of the reservation, weavers began creating for a new market and the regional style of Navajo rug was born. Innovation within Navajo weaving has resulted in the expansion of the palette from four or five basic colors to hundreds of colors commonly drawn from native plants found on the Navajo reservation.

Related Programs

All programs take place at the Beach Museum of Art and are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted. 

Film screening: Skins
October 30, 2014, 6 p.m.
Filmmaker Chris Eyre, who directed the independent success story Smoke Signals--one of the first motion pictures directed by, written by, and starring Native American talent--offers another look at contemporary Native American culture in this hard-hitting drama starring Eric Schweig and Graham Greene as two brothers living on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Rated R. 

An Evolving Relationship: Native American Artists and Collectors in the American Southwest
November 13, 2014, 6 p.m.
Nancy Mahaney, curator of “Earth and Loom: A Century of Native American Art,” talks about the Deschner Collection and the resulting exhibition at the Beach Museum of Art. 


Image Credit: Navajo weaver at loom with sheep and goats, ca. 1915. William J. Carpenter photographer, Library of Congress LC-USZ62-63.