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Navaho Pollen and Sand Painting

October 17 – November 14, 1943
Ground Floor, Central Gallery

This exhibition is no longer on view at the National Gallery.

Overview: The works in this exhibition depicted the war ceremonial that accompanies the induction of Navaho tribesmen into the armed forces. Sacred sand paintings of this Navaho rite, originally prepared before raids into enemy territory, were copied in gouache on deer hide by Maud Oakes. She had spent 3 years on the Navaho Reservation with the support of a grant from the Old Dominion Foundation. A series of 18 images was shown, accompanied by another group of 50. These had been collected by Mary Wheelwright and illustrated Navaho myths of creation. The original Indian designs were executed in sand, pollen, corn meal, or ground flowers. The traditional Navaho ceremonial was adapted for use in World War II.

Related Publication: Where the Two Came to Their Father, A Navaho War Ceremonial, by Jeff King with portfolio of paintings by Maud Oakes. Bollingen Series I. New York: Pantheon Books, 1943.