The Herd Museum in Arizona has been hosting a cultural event dubbed Beauty Speaks for Us. It is an important platform for showcasing rich elements of cultures in America as well as the unique behaviors of people belonging to various cultures. The Museum has continually grown in stature and size to become a world class center for quality collections, festivals, and educational programming. It is dedicated to an accurate and sensitive depiction of native cultures and arts. As an institution, it combined stories of American Indians from their individual points of view with the beauty of art works. Heard Museum sets a national standard with its innovative programs, unmatched festivals, and world-class exhibitions by working together with Native people to produce first-person voices. Collaboration with tribal communities and American Indian artists provides ambience for visitors to enjoy a unique perspective of cultures and art of Native people, especially those originating from Southwest. The mission of this museum is to become the preeminent museum globally for the manner in which it advances the art of American Indians, its presentation as well as interpretation and stressing its intersection with cultural themes and broader artistic. ‘Beauty Speaks for Us’ is a quintessential event in this museum. Thus, it is important to delineate element of culture observed during the event that displayed astounding beauty.
Observations and Summaries
American Indian Tribes
The presence of American Indian tribes in their traditional attires dancing and selling various indigenous items speaks volumes for the richness of American culture and the behaviors of American Indians. Without this kind of event, it is easy to assume that America is a nation that is only associated with modernism and high technological advancement. However, observing these tribes allows one to understand that Arizona as a state is important in promoting diversity in the US. Their dancing styles present an amazing scene to behold. The dances are unique and coupled with beautiful clothing and perfectly choreographed moves provide entertainment while creating a jovial mood for onlookers. Huge crowds gather around the dancers and many people also flock areas where their items are sold to purchase beads, jewelers, pots and paintings. These communities give the state a unique outlook and make the museum an important place to visit. Events provide avenues and opportunities for all Americans to learn how people lived in the US before industrialization and technological revolution. The way they dance shows that the people favor conservative behaviors free of any kind of provocation.
- What does American Indian tribes attire presents?
- What kind of assumptions can be made regarding this kind of tribe?
- What are the American Indian styles of dancing and presentation?
- Who are involved during the performance?
- What is the importance of these events
Another interesting sight to observe within the museum is the indigenous food of the Indian tribes. It was interesting to learn that some of the foods which have been adopted into the modern-day cuisine of the US originated from American Indians. They include; turkey, mush, cornbread, blueberry cranberry, and hominy. Interviewing one person from this native community revealed that maize, also known as corn, plus squash and beans were the most common foods thereby put on displays and cooked for visitors to taste. The interviewee revealed that the trio involved was commonly referred to as the “Three Sisters” since planting was done interdependently. For instance, the maize was planted first then beans to allow the beans to grow up the tall stalks of the maize. On the other hand, the squash grow at the base of the plants to offer support and protection for the root systems. Considering the fact that most people visiting the museum during this event came from urban America and hardly knew much concerning this culture, this knowledge is fascinating. One can be fascinated by the fact that these communities implemented various scientific practices in agriculture despite not being familiar with modern science in this field. By observing and tasting these foods and others such as succotash, bird brain, piki bread, bush tea and casabe just to mention a few, one can easily understand the true origin of various modern cuisines prepared in restaurants in Arizona and other states.
The display of utensils was an attractive sight with a lot of details to learn. From the interview and information provided by the guides, it comes to light that the earliest utensils used by these communities were wooden spoons, knives, griddles and grinders that were made from organic materials such as animal bones and rock. Gourds that were originally cultivated, dried and hollowed to be used as storage containers, bowls, ladles, and spoons were on display. Available for observation were elaborate pottery and weaving traditions for making containers, bowls and cooking pots as well as cooking baskets that the people had woven from different local fibers and some even coated with clay in order to improve durability. Contrary to modern day sources of heat, charcoal or hot stones were used with these utensils during cooking. For all observers, seeing these meticulously made utensils invokes appreciation to the existence of modern technology which has ensured that cooking is fast and utensils are strong and durable. One can also appreciate the way the communities made the best of what was available to survive and make their lives as comfortable as possible. In fact, these communities were proud of their items to the extent that some of them were hesitant to use the modern utensils. Thus, it poses a challenge to all the visitors to play a role in cultural conservation promoting cultural diversity across all the states in the US.
Art Works and Behaviors
The display of eye-catching art works such as paintings and drawing during this event exemplifies measures taken the communities to preserve their culture and their rich heritage in modern America. The arts section displays attractive paintings of personalities in the tribe, animals, foods, monuments and groups. They point out to the fact that creativity in America is not just a modern-day occurrence but something that existed even before the country was officially founded. The painters used bright colors of which some are symbolic of the message being passed. Information gained from an interview with one of the natives indicates that the tribes use paintings and drawing as an important way of communication and performing various rituals. They also painted various parts of their bodies as a sacred practice in their tribes. Just like in the contemporary society, paintings are more than just pieces of art to entertain and display a painter’s creativity but something that has the power to teach, inspire, entertain and preserve information. Therefore, observing paintings and drawing during this event was the most interesting aspect of the show as far as display of elements that covers beauty is concerned.
Among those who are present, one can notice mindfulness, ecstasy, friendliness as key behavioral patterns among. Everyone is joyful and eager to socialize with a stranger and learn something new. Cultural beauty as the main subject reveals that the culture displayed in the museum can be characterized by unity and hard work as the most important values. The communities here live together and share their items. Their attitude can be characterized as full of optimism and hopefulness.
Display of two Cultures/Cultural Comparisons
The event displayed one culture that is both different and similar to contemporary culture in America. American Indian culture is full of conservative tendencies while contemporary American culture is known for liberal acts. The women in the museum had put on long dresses and have a uniform hair style unlike in modern America characterized by fancy dressing and adornment which can also be provocative. The American Indians culture shuns individualism but embraces communal living. This cultural aspect is portrayed by their togetherness in settlement, economic activities such as hunting, farming and trade, conducting rituals and religious practices and behaviors. On the other hand, the modern culture in America is fully of individualistic tendencies. Togetherness is fostered from family units and not along communal, racial or tribal lines. The American Indians have also displayed simplicity in their basic elements of their culture while the contemporary culture is complicated in art, cuisines, housing, mode of transport and dressing. Despite the clear lines of differences, the two cultures are similar in certain ways and the points of contrast are observable in the museum. Both American Indians and contemporary Americans use art work to display, preserve, give tributes and celebrate several elements of their culture such as values, creativity and heroism. Additionally, both cultures are dynamic and have embraced change overtime by stopping bad practices that fueled discrimination and threaten human beings while accepting positive change. Thus, the event provided an opportunity to observe the behaviors of people and together with physical items to understand and infer the beauty of the cultures on display.
This is subject is viewed the same way in our homeland. Cultural beauty is celebrated and embraced by many people because it is an important part of heritage. Also, it is a way of honoring diversity in the country. The event presented an opportunity to learn new activities and lifestyle from a different group of people that does not exist in my culture.
In conclusion, this article is based on the ‘Beauty Speaks for Us’ event in the Heard Museum delineating elements of the culture observed during the event that displayed astounding beauty. The beauty of the American Indian culture was embedded and displayed in several observable features. One could observe attractive adornments, beautiful language, utensils, delicious cuisines, unique dancing styles, and creative paintings and art works. Despite being different from contemporary American culture, one can easily observe the celebration of diversity in the US through such exhibitions.