IACA Journal, Summer 2014 - page 14

IACA Journal | Summer 2014
Patchwork – An Expression of Creativity
Susan Howard Sapronetti (Lower Muskogee Creek)
Standing in Two Worlds:
A faceless w man gently rests her arms atop a traditional ash
splint basket. The image is familiar yet new. Graceful, yet
Mona Lisa Makes a Basket
by Elizabeth Doxtater,
Mohawk, is a beautiful mixture of traditional Haudenosaunee
(Iroquois) elements that challenge the Euro-centric art world by
mirroring the world’s most famous painting.
Representative of several of the works in the Iroquois Indian Museum’s new exhibition,
Standing in Two Worlds: Iroquois in 2014,
Doxtater seamlessly melds Haudenosaunee
cultural elements with non-native imagery to speak of identity, continuity, and ancient
presence. “Mona Lisa” is transformed into the No Face Doll, the subject of a well-
known Haudenosaunee story passed on through generations. By recasting the famous
woman with the enigmatic smile in unmistakably Mohawk terms, Doxtater wryly
illuminates that neither civilization, nor highly developed artistic expression was unique
to Renaissance Europe. Like many Haudenosaunee artists, Doxtator, who resides at Six
Nations Reserve, combines references to traditional teachings and artistic practices with
a global vocabulary to reflect upon, and reframe, contemporary indigenous experience.
The Haudenosaunee, whose original territories spanned most of what is now New
York State and beyond, are perhaps best known for their exquisite and unique style
of three-dimensional raised beadwork. Today, artists such as Karen Ann Hoffman,
Wisconsin Oneida, take traditional beadwork to new levels, reinventing its role and
investing it with fresh potency. In her piece,
Treaty Rights Footstool Walleye Spearfish-
Mona Lisa Makes a Basket,
Doxtater, acrylic on canvas, Iroquois
Indian Museum, 2014
Treaty Rights Footstool Walleye Spearfishing,
Karen Ann Hoffman, found object and
beadwork, 2012
Hoffman takes the position that
her homeland represents an important
“battleground” of treaties, the outcome
of which will impact all Native peoples.
Long-standing sovereign rights to hunt
and gather are expressed through an un-
conventional device—that of an elegant
beadwork cushion incorporated into a
refurbished antique stool. Not without
intention are four eagle-talon-like feet
that support the stool. The eagle in
Haudenosaunee tradition stands atop the
Tree of Peace—a vigilant guardian of the
Confederacy who will discharge a battle
cry should the union be threatened.
Painter Brandon Lazore, Onondaga,
speaks through murals and canvas.
His most recent work,
Broken Trea-
explores the countless breaches in
agreement between indigenous people
and colonial governments and how such
fissures have endangered the world. Us-
ing U.S. currency as a vehicle, the dollar
amount is replaced with “Filthy Rich”
and links the Capitol to big business and
its perpetual pattern of ecological degra-
dation. Despite the deceit, the Haudeno-
saunee will stand fast in their traditional
ways, even if it requires donning a gas
mask for defense from pervasive ideo-
logical and environmental pollution. The
unwavering Haudenosaunee obligation
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