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On the Artful Path: Chief’s Headdress

Among the many historical objects and belongings displayed in MOA’s Multiversity Galleries are a wide range of contemporary artworks, often purchased or commissioned directly from the artists themselves, and sometimes donated by artists or collectors. Much dynamic new work is being done by Indigenous women artists who are relearning and remixing women’s practices of the past to reflect on contemporary contexts for cultural reclamation, artistic freedom and building community.

These works speak to the individual experiences of these women and the powerful ways they are making sense of the world through their art and their ancestral knowledge. The next time you visit MOA, be sure to look for some of these unique and memorable works.

Chief’s Headdress, by Kuuyas 7waahlal Gidaak, Lisa Hageman Yahgulanaas (2016)

This elaborate headdress was made by Haida weaver Lisa Hageman Yahgulanaas. It is a modern interpretation of a ceremonial head-piece that came to Lisa in a dream, where she imagined it featuring a glass frontlet instead of the traditionally carved wooden one. The design woven of wool on most of the headband and on the back panel interprets the Lightning motif; the design under the glass frontlet is known as Diamond within Diamond. Although the glass frontlet and woven elements appear to be two distinct entities—the ancestral and the contemporary—here they come together as one. “I weave because I could not do otherwise,” Yahgulanaas says; “Weaving dances through my dreams at night.”

Find Me: Case 015, or on MOA’s Collections Online. Photo by Kyla Bailey.