Photo by Marcus Ayala

By Marcus Ayala


The Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) opened an exhibit in the American Wing called “Art of Native America.” The artworks there are from the Charles and Valerie Diker collection.

Featured are 116 masterworks that represent the achievements of artists from more than 50 distinct indigenous traditions across North America.

Among the pieces are sculptures from British Columbia and Alaska, dating from second century through the early twentieth century.

The first work in the exhibit came from Carrie Bethel and is called Mono Lake Paiute. It’s made of willow shoots, sedge root, redbud shoots and dyed bracken root. Bethel began working on it in 1926 at age 29 and ended up winning first place at the Yosemite National park’s Indian field day competition.

Another work was from Mary Winkle, a Panamint Shoshone, and it was a jar. It’s made of willow and sumac shoots, Joshua tree root and dyed juncus stems.

Elizabeth Hickox was considered one of the greatest basket weavers of the Klamath River Valley region in Northern California. Then there was Juana Basilia Sitmelelene, who created an exhibited tray that she made just fter the Spanish arrived in late eighteenth century. The new market of Europeans led to more innovative designs. Hickox combined the designs of European colonists with the imagery of a complex indigenous world.

A husband and wife duo named Maria and Julian Martinez from New Mexico created a Black-on-Black Jar made of Clay and Slip. They, both deceased, were widely acclaimed ceramic artists. Maria shaped the vessels and Julian painted and designed them.