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Daily Art Moment: Umatilla artist

“This bright and cheery ‘Berry Bag’ is part of a much larger tradition of twined bags among tribes in the Columbia Plateau region and are known as ‘Sally Bags.’ The Portland Art Museum has many of these bags which were made in many shapes and sizes, reflecting their use as utilitarian items used for all manner of purposes, including gathering berries. These were not created as mundane practical objects but were also expressions of beauty. The makers used available materials: from natural fibers such as cornhusks and other organic sources, and later, cotton and yarn. Bold color and geometric designs adorn these bags, but this is the first one I have seen with a portrait. You can see other older bags with more typical designs and materials below. The brown corduroy rim was probably repurposed from used clothing and may have made this object even more personal for the original user.”

Kathleen Ash-Milby, Curator of Native American Art

Umatilla artist. Berry Bag, 1920/1940. Commercial dyes, buckskin, and cotton. The Elizabeth Cole Butler Collection, 2012.92.21