The Hallie Ford Museum of Art has a strong collection of both traditional and fine art by Native American artists. The traditional art collection is focused on Northwest tribes with an emphasis on tribes from Oregon and more specifically the Willamette Valley. This collection contains primarily baskets but also includes miniatures and a growing collection of ceremonial regalia.
The collection also includes paintings, prints, and sculpture by contemporary Northwest Native American artists such as Rick Bartow, Joe Feddersen, James Lavadour, Marie Watt, and Lillian Pitt, among others. A selection of works from this collection is on permanent view in the museum.
Extending the Conversation
This series of films explores the work of three Native American artists from the Pacific Northwest who were selected for this program that features each artist and the artwork they created for the permanent collection at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art.
See more artwork from this collection
Unknown Clatsop Artist
LOWER COLUMBIA: The basket in the foreground (NA 26) is one of the few well-documented objects in Willamette's collection and one of the rarest because of its age. It was given to the Rev. J.L. Parrish, a missionary and early trustee of the University, in the early 1840s by the Clatsop Indians on the Oregon coast. Three rows of elk are topped by a row of birds believed to represent hell divers, a type of grebe. The tear in the rim allows us to better see how different decorative elements contribute to the basket's design.
Marie Watt (b. 1967)
Marie Watt is of Seneca background, but grew up in the Northwest, and graduated from Willamette University in 1990. She also has art degrees from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe and Yale University. This print is part of Watt's "Blanket Series," which includes both prints and multidimensional constructions made out of second-hand woolen blankets. Blankets are everyday objects that in both historical and contemporary Native American life have taken on richly symbolic meanings. Blankets were trade items in early contact with Euro-Americans, sometimes carrying disease but also a medium for the transfer of design ideas. Today, blankets are given at ritual occasions such as honoring events, funerals, weddings, and births. In discussing her work, Watt has said: I am particularly drawn to the human stories and rituals implicit in everyday objects. Made familiar by use and scaled to the body, they often go unnoticed, but make me think about the relationship between part and whole; I wish to capture this sense of familiarity in the objects I make. In drawing, I am drawn to the way the crow quill pen makes marks. Quiet, irregular, delicate, plotting, they relate to a tradition of craftsmen: illustrators, cartographers, draftsmen, and calligraphers. My work explores the overlap between art and craft, process and object, and nature and man.
Joe Feddersen (b. 1953)
Joe Feddersen was born in 1953 in Omak, WA, on the edge of the Colville Reservation. He was drawn to art from an early age, and pursued printmaking first at Wenatchee Community College, and later received a B.F.A. from the University of Washington, and a M.F.A. at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Since 1989, he has taught art at Evergreen State College in Olympia. In his twenty-year career, Feddersen has worked in painting, three-dimensional constructions such as basketry and glass sculpture, photography, and computer-generated imagery, but he is best known as a virtuoso printmaker. Much of his work is influenced by geometric designs derived from traditional Plateau Indian artistry, itself inspired by Northwest landscapes, flora, and fauna. In recent years, in his "Urban Indian Suite," Feddersen has explored the complex reality lived by contemporary Native Americans by making work that connects Plateau Indian designs and forms with the patterns that surround all of us in our urban landscape. The glass basket on display employs a traditional Plateau Indian form (the "Sally" bag) and superimposes a chain link design on the outer layer. This work makes multiple references: while the chain link design is instantly recognizable to all of us as ubiquitous in modern life, it has much in common with the diagonal forms of Plateau baskets. It also evokes themes of enclosure, captivity, and removal, as well as mundane dimensions of everyday suburban life."
Unknown Yup'ik Artist
These bags were made to hold roots or personal belongings. This bag is highly visual with serrated polychrome lozenges with inclusive negative embellishments on recto and three vertical and repetitive bands of complimentary designs on the verso - This bag is truly a gem.
Rick Bartow (b. 1946)
James Lavadour (b. 1951)
Patricia Courtney Gold (b. 1939)
James Lavadour (b. 1951)
This painting was one of 19 paintings in the River series. They were all exhibited together at the HFMA in the exhibition, James Lavadour: The Properties of Paint. They were exhibited on a long wall mounted shelf.
Phillip John Charette (b. 1962)
Lillian Pitt (b. 1943)
Unknown Tillamook Artist
Natalie Kirk Moody (b. 1972)
According to the artist, the images of this twined wapus (root bag) "represent legends and the oral history of my Columbia River descendants, now the people of Warm Springs. Nch'i-wana (the Big River) was once a sacred dwelling of my ancestors who lived, loved, and lost, but who will remain through the legends of Nch'i-wana." Depicted in bands (from top to bottom) are Tsagaglalal ("She Who Watches"), one of the most powerful Columbia River petroglyphs; the Condor, once wide-ranging in the gorge, and Elk, significant to the lives and livelihood of the peoples of Nch'i-wana.