Contact: Sara Stewart sabrady@upenn.edu OR 215-898-3617

On the Wings of Eagle and Raven: Tlingit and Haida Traditions
April 11 – July 6, 2014

On the Wings of Eagle and Raven: Tlingit and Haida Traditions opens on Friday, April 11 at the Arthur Ross Gallery, University of Pennsylvania. The Haida and Tlingit Native Americans have a rich visual tradition that includes highly stylized artifacts and totem representations. These Tlingit and Haida artifacts, executed in wood, shell, hair, pigment, sinew, feather, and spruce root, reveal the artists’ exceptional craftsmanship. This exhibition will feature 41 cultural and material objects that date from the late 19th century to the present. Under the tutelage of Dr. Larry Silver, Farquhar Professor in the Department of the History of Art and Dr. Robert St. George, Associate Professor in the Department of History, Penn undergraduate students were involved in curating the exhibition and writing the exhibition brochure. This curatorial seminar was taught at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and 33 exceptional Tlingit and Haida artifacts are lent from the Penn Museum’s collection.

The Haida and Tlingit are indigenous groups located in the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America. The main Haida territory is Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands), while Tlingits occupy the coastal panhandle of Alaska. The use of animal totems is an important aspect of their traditions. Haida and Tlingit societies are organized into two matrilineal moieties: Ravens or Eagles. Within each moiety, the family lineage recognizes an animal to identify their clan. These elaborate clan crests appear on headdresses, bentwood boxes, and Chilkat blankets.

Since the 19th-century European colonization of the region, Haida and Tlingit homelands were threatened. Christian missionaries sought to reform the beliefs of these Native Americans, and potlatches (fundamental social and economic events) were outlawed. Consequently, their language and art forms weakened. Today there is a resurgence of Native American artists who assert the lasting presence of their cultures.

 

RELATED PROGRAMS

March 19 at 5pm: Arthur Ross Gallery
Lucy Fowler Williams, PhD, Associate Curator and Jeremy A. Sabloff Keeper,
American Collections, Penn Museum
“Are Old Northwest Coast Objects Meaningful Today? Tlingit At.óow in 2014”    
  
Check locations of lectures
 
April 9 at 6:00 pm  Robert Davidson, laureate Haida artist
“Haida Traditions and Modern Innovations”
Held at the Kislak Center, 6th Floor, Van Pelt Library
 
April 16 at 6:00 pm Gary Wyatt, Director, Spirit Wrestler Gallery
“Northwest Coast Display in Ceremony and Gallery”
Held at the Kislak Center, 6th Floor, Van Pelt Library
 
April 22 at 6:00 pm Aaron Glass, Professor, Bard Graduate Center, New York City
“Tall Tales of the Totem Pole: An Intercultural Biography of the Northwest Coast Icon”
Held at the Kislak Center, 6th Floor, Van Pelt Library
 
April 23 at 5:00 pm William Wierzbowski, Keeper, American Section, University of Pennsylvania Museum of
Archaeology and Anthropology
“Stories from Storage:  Behind the Scenes Lives of Objects”
Held in the Arthur Ross Gallery

April 30 at 6:00 pm  Robin Wright, Professor and Director, Bill Holm Center for Study of Northwest Coast Art,
Burke Museum, University of Washington
"Charles and Isabella Edenshaw: Haida Master Artists"
Held at the Kislak Center, 6th Floor, Van Pelt Library

 

All programs are free to Friends of the Arthur Ross Gallery and Penn students, faculty, and staff with Penn card.

Additional support for On the Wings of Eagle and Raven: Tlingit and Haida Traditions is provided by the Department of the History of Art, the Arthur Ross Gallery Exhibition Fund, Mrs. Arthur Ross, Mr. George Gillespie, the Patron’s Circle of the Arthur Ross Gallery, the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

Caption: Tlingit, 19th Century, “Undersea Grizzly Bear” War Helmut, shell, wood, pigment, copper, spruce root, hair, lent by the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Louis Shotridge Collection.

The Gallery is located at 220 South 34th Street, Philadelphia, and is free and open to the public. HOURS: Weekdays 10:00am 5:00pm; Weekends 12:00pm 5:00pm. Closed Mondays. Visit us on Facebook and Twitter. To reserve a group tour please contact us at arg@pobox.upenn.edu or 215-898-3617. Additional information is available at www.upenn.edu/ARG or 215-898-2083.