Sunday, March 16, 2014

Art That Tells a Story- Honoring Zitkala-sa

I heard a story of a Native American girl and a violin. Her name was Zitkala-sa.   I was given this broken violin and Indian doll head and knew they were destined to be a tribute to this remarkable woman's life.

A Native American bead design was recreated with paint. 

She was born in 1876 on the Yankton Indian Reservation in South Dakota. As a child she was taken from her family by Quaker missionaries to live at the White's Manual Labor Institute in Indiana.
The edges of the violin I hand beaded with glue and beads, one by one.
This part took over 4 hours. 

While at school she discovered her musical talents and learned to play the violin...eventually even writing "The Sun Dance Opera."

Zitkala-sa translates to "Red Bird",  I drew these with paint pens

She went on to further her education beyond the housekeeper training prescribed for all young girls. She obtained her diploma and gave a speech on women's inequality, which received high praise. 

Around the edge of the painted design I added more embellishments. 
 She went on to pursue a degree in higher education and played violin with the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. In 1900 she played violin at the Paris Exposition.

Adding to the design....

On the back of the violin I added a photo of Zitkala-sa with her violin from the year 1898. 

A quote from her writings reflecting on the time she was torn from her mother. All the writing was done with a white Signo pigment ink pen, that I got from my friend Marianne.
The entire back of the piece.
Zitakala-sa not only advocated for the rights of Indians but the rights of women as well and was a key figure in the suffrage movement in the 1920's.
At the top of the violin I added this porcelain dolls head which reminded me of Zitkala-sa before her braids were cut off at school.  The "19 crimes" wine cork which comes from an Australian Wine to me, represents the crimes against the Native Americans. 

Here is the piece in its entirety. I added some wind catchers given to me by a friend as well as a hand beaded bracelet on leather, and a piece of violin music, Beethoven's "Hymn of Joy". Because in the end she overcame her suffering and was a beacon of light for women and persons of color.


marianne said...

very nice, Pam and thanks for sharing the story!

Unknown said...

wow, the story, your art.... amazing! thanks for sharing your beautiful and interesting art! all the best, kym still

Pam McKnight said...

Thanks Marianne and Kym!