The Native American Silver Jewelry Renaissance 1938-1948 (Print Version)
Bille Hougart Books
Few so profoundly influenced the design and quality of Native American silver jewelry as five individuals in the 1930s and 1940s who, when allied in the American Southwest and Washington, DC, forged relationships and mobilized their institutions to improve the lives and economies of Native American artists.
The efforts of a count from Austria, a social reformer from Georgia, an artist and illustrator from Indiana, an artist and social activist from Kentucky and a young Navajo teacher and silversmith in Arizona, were brought to a common purpose by circumstances. They launched a renaissance in jewelry design, production and authenticity still admired and evident in contemporary Native American silver production.
René d’Harnoncourt, John Collier, Kenneth M. Chapman, Mary-Russell Ferrell Colton and Ambrose Roanhorse launched, represented or nurtured various institutions or events, including Indian Market fairs, the Laboratory of Anthropology, the Indian Arts and Crafts Board, museums, silversmith teaching programs at Indian Schools and Indian silversmith guilds. From individual and combined efforts at these institutions, they created a new and lasting appreciation for authenticity and identity expressed through Native American silver design, production and the use of hallmarks.
Included in this 206-page book are hundreds of color photographs of silver objects from the tourist period, the Indian Arts and Crafts Board stamping years, the Navajo Arts and Crafts Guild, unsigned and signed contemporary work, and the United Indian Traders Association. The stories and photographs document how these dedicated individuals helped propel Native American silver arts into a vibrant, modern aesthetic.