Sunday, August 14, 2016

Jicarilla: Home near the Heart of the World

Another missive focusing on the Wheelwright museum where you can view both the Jicarilla exhibition and the Eveli show at the same time.  The Jicarilla, pronounced Hicarrriya, are Apache Indians living near what is now the New Mexico/Colorado border since at least the beginning of Spanish written records.

The exhibition includes, “baskets and beadwork from the Goodman Collection. Purchased by the Jicarilla Apache Nation in 2011, the collection consists of items collected by Hortence Goodman, owner of Goodman’s Department Store in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, between about 1920 and the 1960s. Hortence acquired crafts from Jicarilla customers who frequented her shop, sometimes trading baskets for blankets and other supplies. She tagged many pieces with their makers’ names, and the resulting record provides a means for tracing the history of Jicarilla arts through the first half of the twentieth century.” (Press Release from the Wheelwright)  Other objects come from the Wheelwright’s own collection and other Southwest institutions.

Like so many tribes the Jicarilla found their land reduced both by the advance of the Anglos and also hostile tribes that were forced to move west ahead of the white man.  In 1887 they became the last indigenous people to be placed on a Reservation.   As the land was unsuitable for farming they turned more and more to the arts for survival.  The artists were traditionally women.

A civil war veteran Thomas Varker Keam acting as an interpreter for the Apache agency in Cimarron reported that the Jicarrila Apache women were making clay pots which were in demand by the Mexicans and baskets.  He also recorded the demand for baskets like these:  the large hamper dates around 1940 and comes from the Wheelwright’s own collection and the square one is earlier from around 1920 and was lent by the Center for Southwest Studies at Fort Lewis College.

When Duane Anderson was director of the Indian Arts Research Center at the School of American Research (today known as The School of Advanced Research) in Santa Fe, he brought together 10 Native American potters from various pueblos to create works using micaceous clay.   They were to discuss what was happening to the tradition in recent times.   Interestingly but not surprising a member of the Jicarilla tribe said that they had made the first micaceous pottery but the pueblo potters countered that they had always used micaceous clay in their pottery.  In Anderson’s book “All that Glitters” based on the seminar he concluded that there is no reason to say that one group was first.  Here are two micaceous pieces by Jicarilla potters.  The first by Emanuel Vigil is just called a Free-form pot, 2015 and the other a water jar, 2015 is by Shelden Nuñez-Velarde, both are lent by their respective makers.

I was taken with this woman’s dress, moccasins and legging by Lesao Garcia Velarde from the Goodman collection.  It is dressed with a beaded cape by Taizanita Velarde as are the free standing pair of moccasins (boots) on the side from a private collection.  To see the whole outfit was almost as good as seeing a Jicarilla model in the gallery. Also, the lovely beaded necklace by Thelma Velarde from a private collection shows another of the skills of the Jicarilla artists adding to the impact of the piece.

My final image is something of irresistible appeal, children’s clothing.  These items were collected by Margret J. Voorhees around 1890 and are lent from a private collection.

It is well worth seeing this exhibition.  The arts of the pueblos of the Southwest is generally well known but the culture of the Jicarilla Apaches far less so.

No comments:

Post a Comment