By Ron VandenBoom
A book containing items of contemporary abstract and expressionist Indian art that was once displayed at the Heritage Center in Havre is now the subject of a book published by the Westphalian Museum of Natural History in Muenster, Germany.
The collection was assembled by Dr. Manuela Well-Off-Man, curator for the Westphalian Museum show and displayed at the Heritage Center from May 1999 through the summer, before being shipped to Germany for the show.
The book contains pictures of several works by local artists like Robert Gopher, John Murie, and John Well-Off-Man of Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation, as well as artists from other parts of Montana and the western United States.
Some other artists included in the book are Kevin Red Star, Terrance Guardipee, Francis Wall, Seidel Standing Elk and Emmi Whitehorse.
Each picture comes complete with an explanation of the artist's work provided by the artist and his or her colleagues.
The works contain traditional Indian images and the uniquely modern interpretation of the stratified place native peoples hold in American society.
They speak of native history from the Indian viewpoint and examine the relationship between the two radically different cultures. They show the obvious and the subtle -- sometimes strikingly with bold colors and blatant images and at other times with subdued colors and hidden meanings.
The book brings into question the traditional white view of what constitutes Native American Art and contradicts the impression that Indian art is the manufacture of trinkets and beadwork.
This work is a celebration of Indian culture, Indian history, and the American Indians' view of themselves from the varied views of each individual artist.
To some the book may appear undecipherable, to others hostile, and to others just interesting. All perspectives are correct and each will find something they seek in the book.
The book is also unique in that it is the only book that concentrates solely on modern Native American Art and collects in one place only the works of contemporary Indian works. It does not contain examples from a wide range of art modes where only one or two might be Native American, but concentrates solely on the single perspective of the Native American.
Dr. Alfred Hendricks, director of the Westphalian exhibit wrote the foreword and acknowledgments, extending thanks to Donna McGregor, curator of the H. Earl Clack Museum, and to the museum and gallery for making the exhibit accessible to the American viewing public.
The book will be on display at the H. Earl Clack Museum.
According to McGregor, the museum will be selling the book in the gift shop, but only one advanced copy so far has been received.
Guests are welcome to view the book and advanced orders will be taken. The cost of the book has not been determined yet.v