Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Totem Pole

By: Eva Fognell, Curator of the Eugene and Clare Thaw Collection of American Indian Art

I have the most exciting news to blog about today - we are getting a Totem Pole! A real 30-feet-high carved pole - imagine that! And it is on its way here right now. This is a monumental sculpture, carved from one 30’ tall, 4’ diameter cedar log. Trees that size are hard to find today. Eugene Thaw commissioned the pole from the internationally acclaimed Haida artist & carver Reg Davidson of Masset, Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia. Now we will have a monumental masterpiece of contemporary American Indian art on the front lawn of Fenimore Art Museum. We are planning a dedication celebration and other supporting programs for Saturday May 29th. The pole has taken months to finish. Here are some pictures showing the pole’s progression from a rough outline to the masterpiece carving that it is today. In my next blog I’ll address the imagery and provide some information about the artist.

Totem poles have a long tradition among American Indians in the Pacific Northwest Coast and may be one of the most widely recognized art forms from that region. Traditionally, totem poles were funerary containers and memorial markers, or symbols of clan and family wealth and prestige. The imagery carved into the totem pole may recount familiar legends, clan lineages, or notable events. The Haida are the native people of the Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia, and the southern end of Prince of Wales Island, Alaska.

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