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I took several photos on my recent visit to the Fred Jones Museum of Art on the University of Oklahoma campus. The museum is larger than it seems from the outside, and I kept finding staircases to more floors (There is an elevator, as well.). I think I finally determined that there are four levels, but through the art, there are hundreds of stories (See what I did there?).
There is a large gallery containing art from the Southwest (USA), which slows down the visitor with the opportunity to see some historical and cultural context, as well as the chance to appreciate the artistic abilities of some old souls.
As far as Native jewelry is concerned, the display below points out some interesting features.
This demon horse with the fiery eyes bucks up intimidatingly as a visitor approaches (Actually, it is permanently in that position.). This sculpture seems decidedly out of place among some of the older pieces.
Some of the displays are markedly more modern than others. The woman (left) has horse heads for legs, but don't ask me to explain why (Obviously I know, but it's not my job to interpret the art for you.).
Next, we're on to the selections that are displayed on the walls in the Southwest galleries. Some of these made me think and wonder more than others, so I took pictures of them and their display cards so I could study them closer at home.
The first, Father Sky and Mother Earth has some symbolism to the culture, but challenged me to ponder the creation of our universe and specifically our planet. It amazes me that so many cultures have reached into their imaginations to explain Creation to their children. Perhaps it is hereditary curiosity to cause people to search for God.
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Another, much older, painting was more literal. Titled Hopi Snake Dance, this. Painted from experience, this is a piece that depicts ancient ritual. I was taken aback by the depiction of the dancers carrying the snakes, some even in their mouths as they round the bluff. It is, again, an intimidating image that puts the viewer into a frightening situation, especially if one is afraid of snakes.
I suppose mankind has long sought dominion over even the most dangerous of creatures. From a Biblical perspective, that must mean that we even conquer the serpent who tempted the first humans to sin.
I really enjoyed standing at Canyon Country for a couple of minutes. This piece is only 30 years old and in more of a "pop" style, but its larger size makes it stand out. It would not be as effective at a smaller size and maintain its sense of the scale of the canyons and bluffs depicted.
I encouraged myself to internalize the gentle strength of a shepherd as he guards his sheep and keeps them together. This is an important role in any society - a noble effort to protect those who need protection.
But a view from the side reveals something else: her determination. He gait carries her forward. She knows where she is going. She is unstoppable. And she does it all in a bonnet, a long dress and petticoats.
The Southwest galleries at the Fred Jones Museum of Art allows such quiet contemplation if you take the time to allow it to do so. Watch for more posts from other sections of the museum coming soon.