The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco Celebrates Transformative Gift with Publication Native American Art from the Thomas W. Weisel Family Collection
Apr 18, 2023
April 18, 2023, San Francisco, CA – The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco are pleased to announce the publication of Native American Art: From the Thomas W. Weisel Family Collection, copublished with DelMonico Books, and co-edited by Bruce Bernstein, Hillary C. Olcott, Christina Hellmich, and Deana Dartt with Jill D'Alessandro. The expansive 432 page catalogue celebrates a transformative gift to the Museums that spans nearly one thousand years of artistic creativity by Native American artists. The volume brings together 206 works of art, exemplifying the exquisite artistry and rich cultural histories represented therein. Highlights of objects researched and presented in the book include 19th-century Diné/Navajo weavings, Ancestral and historic Pueblo pottery, Hopi and Zuni carved figures, and Yavapai and Apache basketry, as well as works from the Pacific Northwest and the Plains. Developed in collaboration with cultural advisors, including Joseph R. Aguilar (San Ildefonso), Stewart B. Koyiyumptewa (Hopi), Arden Kucate (Zuni), Christopher Toya (Jemez) and Brian Vallo (Acoma), the catalogue reflects the complex and multilayered nature of the works in the collection and, more broadly, the field of Native American art. To celebrate the project, an event with presentations by co-editors and contributors will be held Saturday, April 22 at the de Young’s Koret Auditorium. The book will be available in the Fine Arts Museums’ store and at bookstores on April 25, 2023.
“The publication of Native American Art has been a monumental, 5-year undertaking for the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco,” said Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of FAMSF. “Our team has worked directly with communities of origin represented in the collection, cultural practitioners, artists, art historians, and museum professionals to share different perspectives on the objects in this collection. We are enormously proud of this collaboration and grateful to each of our authors and advisors for the care they have extended to this project and the knowledge they have shared with us.”
Building upon the Fine Arts Museums’ first publication on the Thomas W. Weisel Family Collection, Lines on the Horizon (2014), Native American Art is an expanded scholarly catalogue that features new research, 30 specially commissioned essays, and 100 extended captions. Contributions by more than 80 authors from different disciplines and cultural backgrounds illuminate details about the living histories of the works. The multitude of perspectives and voices offered here embraces the complexity of the dialogue surrounding Native works past and present, ensuring that Native American Art will be a cornerstone publication in the field of Native American art history.
"The gift of the Thomas W. Weisel Family Collection of Native American Art to the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco provided the extraordinary opportunity for an open-ended, two-year-long conversation between the Museums and Native communities about the display, imaging, care, and disposition of our Ancestral pottery." write Joseph R. Aguilar, Stewart B. Koyiyumptewa, Arden Kucate, Christopher Toya and Brian Vallo in their introduction. The results of the dialogue are in this catalogue, including a culturally sensitive approach to reproducing Ancestral pottery images. Every pot was individually considered, most generating lively discussions, and others soliciting respectful silence. The work we have been doing together has been an opportunity to learn from one another."
Among the important scholarly innovations in Native American Art is the representation of Mimbres bowls and other Ancestral Pueblo pottery forms. Working closely with cultural advisors from five Pueblo communities, the editors and advisory group developed three representative styles for the Mimbres bowls and other Ancestral pottery reproduced in the catalogue. A screen of gold dots takes the place of objects that are culturally sensitive; while drawings made by Acoma artist Michelle Lowden represent bowls that were determined to be from burial contexts but do not feature culturally sensitive imagery. Photography is used when objects are not culturally sensitive.
April 22 Celebration
A free, public launch event celebrating Native American Art will be held Saturday, April 22 at the de Young’s Koret Auditorium. The program will include an introduction by volume co-editor Deana Dartt (Coastal Band, Chumash), followed by presentations about Ancestral and historic Pueblo pottery by project contributors Bobby Silas (Hopi-Tewa) and Deborah A. Jojola (Isleta/Jemez Pueblo). The program will conclude with a panel discussion between members of the book’s Pueblo Advisors group, Governor Arden Kucate (Zuni), Brian Vallo (Acoma), and Joseph R. Aguilar (San Ildefonso), with volume co-editor Bruce Bernstein. More event information here.
Celebration Program Speakers
Joseph R. Aguilar (San Ildefonso) researches the archaeology of the Southwest and serves as a consultant for exhibitions at Colorado’s Mesa Verde National Park and Santa Fe’s Museum of Indian Arts and Culture. He presently serves as deputy tribal historic preservation officer for the Pueblo of San Ildefonso. Dr. Aguilar was a contributing author to Native American Art from the Thomas W. Weisel Family Collection and a member of the book’s Pueblo Advisors group.
Bruce Bernstein has published broadly on Native arts and museums as well as curated many exhibitions. He has worked in distinguished positions, including director for collections and research at the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution; chief curator and director of Santa Fe’s Museum of Indian Arts and Culture/Laboratory of Anthropology; and executive director of the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts. Dr. Bernstein is a co-editor of and contributing author to Native American Art from the Thomas W. Weisel Family Collection.
Deana Dartt (Coastal Band, Chumash), PhD, is the principal of Live Oak Consulting. Previously she held curatorial positions at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, Seattle, and the Portland Art Museum. She is a co-editor of and contributing author to Native American Art from the Thomas W. Weisel Family Collection.
Deborah A. Jojola (Isleta/Jemez Pueblo) is a researcher and contemporary artist. She has worked on a number of collaborative projects as an independent curator and art consultant and acted as research assistant for Native American Art from the Thomas W. Weisel Family Collection. Jojola was also a contributing author to the book.
Cultural Advisor Arden Kucate (Zuni) is an enrolled member, former councilman, and is now governor of the Zuni tribe. He belongs to the Sun clan and is a child of the Crane clan. He has years of experience working with museums, cultural institutions, National Park Service agencies, and other historic preservation organizations. Governor Kucate was a contributing author to Native American Art from the Thomas W. Weisel Family Collection and a member of the book’s Pueblo Advisors group.
Bobby Silas is a Hopi-Tewa potter living in Zuni, New Mexico. Hemakes Zuni polychrome and as well as traditional Hopi pottery, reviving ancient designs and lignite coal firing techniques for his contemporary work. He is the co-curator of the installation Nampeyo and the Sikyatki Revival, now on view at the de Young museum, and was a contributing author to Native American Art from the Thomas W. Weisel Family Collection.
Brian Vallo (Acoma) has spent the last thirty years working on museum development, the
protection of sacred sites, repatriation, the arts, and tourism. The former director of the Indian Arts Research Center, School for Advanced Research, Vallo served as governor of Acoma and was instrumental in the development of Sky City Cultural Center & Haak’u Museum. He was a contributing author to Native American Art from the Thomas W. Weisel Family Collection and a member of the book’s Pueblo Advisors group.
ABOUT THE FINE ARTS MUSEUMS OF SAN FRANCISCO
The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco oversee the de Young museum, located in Golden Gate Park, and the Legion of Honor, in Lincoln Park. It is the largest public arts institution in San Francisco, and one of the most visited arts institutions in the United States.
The de Young originated from the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition in Golden Gate Park and was established as the Memorial Museum in 1895. It was later renamed in honor of Michael H. de Young, who spearheaded its creation. The present copper-clad landmark building, designed by Herzog & de Meuron, opened in October 2005. Reflecting an active conversation among cultures, perspectives, and time periods, the collections on view include American painting, sculpture, and decorative arts from the 17th to the 21st centuries; costume and textile arts; international modern and contemporary art, and arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. Artworks by Native artists from western North America are on view at the de Young. The collection includes baskets from California and the Pacific Northwest, and historic, ancestral and contemporary ceramics by Pueblo potters, textiles by Navajo (Diné) weavers, carvings and regalia from the Pacific Northwest, and works by Alaska Native and Canadian Inuit artists, past and present.
The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco respectfully acknowledge the Ramaytush Ohlone, the original inhabitants of what is now the San Francisco Peninsula, and acknowledge that the Greater Bay Area is the ancestral territory of the Miwok, Yokuts, Patwin, and other Ohlone. Indigenous communities have lived in and moved through this place over hundreds of generations, and Indigenous peoples from many nations make their home in this region today. Please join us in recognizing and honoring their ancestors, descendants, elders, and communities.
Media contact Helena Nordstrom, Director of Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org, 415 465 3531