INDIAN ARTISTS AT WORK by Ulli Steltzer

INDIAN ARTISTS AT WORK

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Exquisite black-and-white photographs of British Columbian Indians, their carvings, weavings, and beaded leather and knitted works. One sees the artists, their artifacts, and, in a number of cases, the sequence of steps involved--from shearing Sam the ram through drying, carding, and spinning the wool to finished sweaters with traditional monster designs. Or there are people digging and gathering roots and grasses, using them in a variety of weaves, and displaying baskets and hats in different stages Of completion. The carvings--of wood, slate, gold--include jewelry, masks, sculpture, totem poles, and doors, often painted or inlaid with abalone. For these traditional techniques (several revived in recent years) traditional tools are essential; the carvers mention the importance of shaping a tool to the hand and to each new work. (""The small awl was my mother's; it used to take her a week or two to shape and sharpen one of them."") Many pieces--a boxwood sculpture of the Haida creation story, a Nootka Maquinna mask, a Vancouver Island chief's hat--transcend the boundaries of utility or ceremony and stand as artworks rather than as crafts. The spare text consists of identifying captions and the briefest of statements about materials, techniques, inspiration: ""You are always learning, there is always something else to try out in dyeing. It depends on the time of the month and the weather what shades of color you get from a particular plant."" Elemental and unforgettable images--a curl of wood poised before falling--in a truly magnificent album.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1977
Publisher: Univ. of Washington Press