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Arts & Life

PHOTOS: Afternoon Of Dance And Song Opens 'Art Of The Plains Indians' Exhibit

Drumbeat and song drifted through the halls of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art Sunday afternoon in celebration of the opening of Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky. Native American dancers wearing brightly-colored ribbons and feathers performed traditional dances in Atkins Auditorium and Kirkwood Hall.

Storytellers and artisans entertained visitors en route to the exhibit of nearly 140 works of art including feather headdresses, beaded cradleboards, painted buffalo robes and sculpture like "Last Lakota Horse Raid" by contemporary artist Rhonda Holy Bear.

Eagles adorned his intricately-beaded ceremonial vest as two-time World Champion Fancy Dancer Larry Yazzie took the stage with his troupe of Native Pride Arts performers. Feathers and ribbon flew as Yazzie high-stepped to drum beats. The music ranged from Native American songs to Pharrell Williams’ Happy when the dancers invited audience members to join them for a dance lesson.

In the Bloch Lobby, Lawrence-based storyteller Ron Brave regaled a small crowd with a tale of a young man discovering his destiny. Brave works at Haskell Indian Nations University, and says he was looking forward to seeing the artifacts on display.

"Being Oglala Lakota, I am really curious about the designs they were using from years ago," he says. "Is it the same designs we are doing today? Maybe not, maybe so. What stitches do they use? Is it the same stitch? And what was the artist thinking?"

Brave says he's always interested in learning something new, as well as unearthing stories about the artwork. 

"It really doesn’t matter if the piece is from the Northwest, Southwest, Florida, New Brunswick, Great Lakes, The Great Plains, it all has a little different story that I can relate with," he says. "And if I can relate with it, it gives me a good opportunity to share, share that with others. And that is really satisfying to me and to my soul."

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art presents Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky, Sept. 19 through Jan. 11, 2015, 4525 Oak St, Kansas City, Mo., 816-751-1278.

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