The Denver Art Museum has published a book documenting their exhibition of large-scale Plains and Plateau "dolls" or sculptural figures from the collection of Charles and Valerie Diker. It contains amazing photographs and short essays that provide context for each doll, the artists who created the work and background information on the clothing traditions portrayed by the dolls.
A common sentiment that each artist expresses is that doll making provides a venue to connect with cultural histories and continue artistic traditions into the present. According to Joyce Growing Thunder, “Doing this work is really important for me because it’s helping my ancestors to carry along the culture and traditions” (26). Through their dolls, the artists are keeping traditional Plateau and Plains clothing traditions and crafting techniques alive and helping to maintain distinctive tribal aesthetics.
Grand Procession celebrates a remarkable new tradition-based, contemporary American Indian art form. From a heritage rooted in dolls and ledger-book drawings, a fresh and exciting sculptural art featuring human and animal figures has evolved since the mid-1980s. Typically around two feet tall and meticulously clothed in elaborate beaded and quilled ceremonial dress, the figures carefully emulate Plains and Plateau traditions of the mid-nineteenth to early twentieth centuries.
The premier collection of these figures, created by five award-winning Native American women artists—Rhonda Holy Bear (Lakota), Jamie Okuma (Luiseno), and the Growing Thunder family (Assiniboine-Sioux): Joyce Growing Thunder, her daughter Juanita Growing Thunder Fogarty, and granddaughter, Jessica Growing Thunder—has been brilliantly assembled by Charles and Valerie Diker. While each figure is a strong work of art, the assemblage of figures is particularly powerful.
Beautifully illustrated, this volume will appeal to all those interested in American Indian art and crafts, contemporary and historic Indian lifeways, sculpture, and dolls. Grand Procession crosses many boundaries.