By Marivir R. Montebon
New York City – On a comfortably sunny Sunday, I just wanted to show my visiting friends from Florida an amazing historic document at the National Museum of the American Indian: the immigration document of Dr. Albert Einstein. The math genius came from Germany when World War II was brewing and settled in Princeton, NJ when he was 55 years old.
But the Smithsonian museum had a big surprise for us too on the east room, the Native Fashion Now. In no time, I was excited and so was Jane Hernando to find out about the fashion exhibit. Together with Nanette Zambo, and the rest of the gang, we walked through the spacious venue that took us to the evolving and experimental fashion artistry of America’s celebrated indigenous fashion designers.
Native Fashion Now has the Big Apple as the last leg of its US and Canada tour that will end on September 4 showcasing 67 works of art, from the 1950s to the present. It is organized by the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts. The exhibit celebrates native arts and articulates them into modern-day practical fashion, thereby making the almost irrelevant first nations culture alive again.
The creations of groundbreaking designers Dorothy Grant (Haida) and Frankie Welch (Cherokee descent) and works of D.Y. Begay (Dine Navajo), and Bethany Yellowtail (Apsaalooke/Northern Cheyenne) are among the eye-catching pieces in the exhibition room. The work of Lloyd “Kiva” New (Cherokee) was particularly impressive, using straight prints on modern-day dresses for the busy working woman.
What a perfect timing for us to be able to appreciate how the vanishing world of indigenous cultures have been merged in modern times by the artistry of these indigenous fashion designers. (Featured photo is the creation of Orlando Dugi, a Dine Navajo)