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Daily Art Moment: Dakota artist

“This tender drawing of a couple courting was created by a Dakota artist at the end of the nineteenth century, a time of great loss and conflict for Native people on the northern plains. Yet the artist chose to depict an intimate moment. We see a young man with his arms outstretched toward a young woman, indicating his desire for her to join him under the blanket for an embrace (and privacy). Drawings like this were often created by their makers to record pivotal events, especially conquests in war. Perhaps this was a romantic conquest that the artist wanted to record from his youth? Or a nostalgic memory of a simpler time? Although we do not know the name of the artist, his community would have recognized the couple from many details, such as the cloth of the young woman’s dress, the stripes on the suitor’s moccasins, and even the very carefully rendered characteristics of the horse who is witnessing the scene. Collected by a missionary, Mary Collins, this drawing was passed down through family and collectors, and will be exhibited for the first time at the Museum later this year.”

Kathleen Ash-Milby, Curator of Native American Art

Unknown Dakota artist. Ledger Drawing, ca. 1890. Graphite and crayon on paper. Gift of Gilbert Meigs and Laurie Meigs in memory of Mary Collins, 2008.115.5, no known copyright restrictions