By Ron VandenBoom
A collection of old car parts draped with a coating of shakers screen is destined to be recycled, but not to the recycling bin.
Instead, the 11-foot-6 inch long by 6-foot high sculpture of a buffalo will grace a collection of contemporary abstract and expressionist art at the Westphalian State Museum of Natural History in Muenster, Germany sometime shortly after the middle of August.
The sculpture titled Reborn Reservation Wrecks by Blackfoot artist Jay Laber, is currently on display under the trees in the northwest corner of the Heritage Center in Havre.
The work was completed in 1999 and, according to Dr. Manuela Well-Off-Man, curator of the show for the German museum, is a sculpture that explains reservation life.
The sculpture is representing the introduction of cars and machines into Indian life and the shakers screen represents the white farmer on the Flathead Reservation, Well-Off-Man said.
All of the parts used in the exhibit came from the reservation and all are still part of the reservation physically and culturally, she said.
Laber said of the work, it has no eyes it cant see where its going, but it will get there.
Indian country is the same way, he said. Its not a static culture. Its in flux and it may surprise you.
Bison was essential to the Indian way of life, Well-Off-Man said. Today, the car has replaced the buffalo on the reservation.
Well-Off-Man explained that while the buffalo was used completely by the Indians for food, clothing, and other essential items, with no leftover waste, the car is used only briefly and once broken it is thrown away and left.
The car is today more a part of the landscape (than the buffalo), Well-Off-Man said.
Reborn Reservation Wrecks will join more than 20 other works scheduled to be shipped to Germany next month. Special guided tours of the current exhibit can be arranged by calling 265-4000.