On Thursday night, November 14th, art historian Barbara Tomlinson, Ph.D. delivered the 2019 Lehman Lecture in Kirby Chapel, focusing on Native American art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Dr. Tomlinson discussed how the power and beauty of historical Native American art are now featured in 116 works that were installed in a newly-designed gallery in the museum’s American Wing. New York collectors Charles and Valerie Diker have donated, loaned, and promised many of these works as gifts to the Museum, and the exhibition of these objects, “Art of Native America: The Charles and Valerie Diker Collection,” marks the first time Native works have taken their place in the American Wing—founded in 1924—as representatives of North America's artistic heritage.
As part of her presentation, Dr. Tomlinson offered suggestions on how to approach Native American art. She said that it’s important to consider the region in which the artwork was produced, and to think about the materials that were used in creating it. Dr. Tomlinson also asked the audience to also think about the function of the piece of art. While individual expression is rare in North American art, other pieces can be broadly categorized as iconic images, objects for commerce, or spirit helpers.
The Lehman Lecture was established in 1989 by Emily Lehman Smith ’56 and Gail Lehman Harty ’59 to honor their father and grandfather, noted architects and builders. It brings leading figures in art and design to campus each year.