Whether it's a conversation with a friend, a word that is penned, or a craft that is made, everything we do leaves a stitch in the fabric of time. Join us as we investigate the stitches of the past and present...
"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: ... a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak" (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7).
I recently discovered a new art form which I have claimed for my own
artistic purposes—Ledger Art.
Ledger Art is an adaptation of
Plains Indian hide painting that developed as buffalo hides became sparse.
Before the Plains tribes were forced onto reservations they had a
tradition of painting their personal stories on buffalo hides, shields, tipis,
and clothing. The men usually painted representational pictures of life
happenings. The women painted abstract, geometrical designs. After the Indians
were forced onto reservations and buffalo hides became scarce Plains artists
began painting and drawing on paper, canvas, and muslin.The art is drawn in one-dimensional outlines
and filled in with bright colors. As used ledger pages and other written-upon
materials were passed to the Indian artists, they began to draw over the
written words, not wasting any materials they could use as canvases.
In recent years
Ledger Art has had a resurgence. Contemporary ledger artists still draw and
paint on antique ledger paper when they can find it, but they have added other
sources of paper, including old maps, sheet music, railroad tickets, and other
documents as their canvases. Often artists create juxtapositions between the
paper’s content and what they have drawn. Many contemporary artists still use
the flat, one-dimensional style of drawing. Others have begun to create more
three-dimensional art on ledger canvases.
After reading about Ledger Art in one
of my native American magazines, I was captivated by the art samples I saw. I
went on an internetsearch and found
more examples. I’ve included a couple of links so you can see this fantastic
work. I especially love Dolores Purdy
Corcoran’s ledger art.
ledger artists often use ledger art to honor pre-reservation culture or comment
on, or poke fun at, the world around them, I found a new use for ledger art.
Using my poetry, I have begun to create my own form of ledger art, placing
hand-drawn images, or computer images of pictures I’ve taken, on top of the
poems, which I place on blue-lined notebook paper.
At first I struggled
with using a form of art that claims to be an exclusively American Indian art
form. Then it occurred to me I have Choctaw blood in my ancestry. I’m a little
bit Indian. I can also draw those one-dimensional figures, and using my poems I
can create my own ledger paper. Once I got that notion in my head there was no
stopping the creative juices. I stayed up late several nights as the ideas for
poem-related ledger art, and ledger art written on my own music compositions
flowed from my brain. Granted, I might not have the artistic skills of some of
the contemporary ledger artists today, and most of what I create will never see
the inside of an art gallery, but what I’m creating is in the spirit of the art
form, since many of the poems I’m planning on using have a relationship to
things that have happened in my life and my family’s life. I think it will make a nice legacy for my daughter to have one day.
The only thing I need
now is a few more hundred hours a week to create everything I want to write,
draw, and compose. Ah, being an artist is such a problem. J