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Jul 21

Native Abstraction: Howard Cook's Study of Native American Practice and Ritual

Posted on July 21, 2016 at 12:11 PM by Sara Woodbury

About the Art: Howard Cook, Dance of the Hands, Taos, 1954, conte crayon on paper
Gift of the Artist, 1973.031.0132

Exhibition Details
  • March 11-June 19, 2016

Exhibition Overview

In this series of abstract drawings, Taos artist Howard Cook (1901-1980) explores Native American spiritual practice and ritual through dances he observed at Taos Pueblo. Created in the early 1950s, these charcoal and conte crayon drawings represent the Deer and Buffalo Dances, practiced at the Pueblo on December 25 and January 6.

Cook’s abstractions are reflective of the innate transcendental nature of Native American expression. The power of the ceremony’s spiritual impression on the artist in intensified by his abstracted style, marked by a solidification of space in which figures are stacked and linked through line. Human shapes are united in the moment, losing individual form and transitioning into a sacred, geometric language connected in space by the metaphysical energy Cook creates.