Final Weeks of Mitchell Museum of the American Indian's "Miniature Artwork-Enormous Appeal" Exhibit

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), February 3, 2016 | Go to article overview

Final Weeks of Mitchell Museum of the American Indian's "Miniature Artwork-Enormous Appeal" Exhibit


Byline: Jennifer Howell

Mitchell Museum of the American Indian's exhibit "Miniature Artwork - Enormous Appeal", which opened last spring, is closing February 14. The exhibit features miniature interpretations of Native American utilitarian and ceremonial objects including basketry, silverwork, carving, weaving and pottery from the 1900s to today. It compares beautifully handcrafted objects to their full size counterparts; showcasing the tremendous skill and dexterity required to create the miniature objects with the same technique and design detail.

Miniatures came about under a variety of circumstances in the Native American and First Nation communities of the United States and Canada. At the turn of the 19th century, train routes entered rural Native American and First Nation communities where tourists first saw and wanted to buy Native products. Commerce generated collectors who encouraged and supported local artists. The artists produced utilitarian and traditional items in a small, portable size perfect for collectibles. As Euro-American ideas and styles influenced and changed the cultural landscape of Native communities, the artists developed innovative and traditional designs of miniatures in basketry, silverwork, carving, and pottery.

Even prior to the tourist train depots that dotted Native communities across America, indigenous people hand-crafted miniature tools, small-scale household items and dolls. These durable and miniature items served as teaching tools for Native children to learn lifeways, responsibility, and caring, thereby sustaining the traditional values of Native families and tribes. …

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