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Olson-Brandelle North American Indian Art Collection in the Thomas Tredway Library

Open-ended Exhibition 


Tony Da (1940-2008), sienna plate with heartline deer in Mimbres style with 3 inlaid turquoise stones, 1971, hand formed and outdoor fired ceramic, 10 x 10 x 1-3/4" The Olson-Brandelle North American Indian Art Collection, Augustana College.

This collection establishes Augustana as a major study center for North American Pueblo Indian pottery. The 400 art objects comprise more than 220 traditional Pueblo Indian pottery forms, with the remainder in baskets and other textiles, original prints and clay figures. Also included are 36 photogravures by Edward Curtis from his volume The Hopi and an extensive reference library. Dating from pre-1600 to the present, the collection aims at documenting continuing traditions and the recognition achieved by Native American potters during the 20th century. A substantial portion of the collection is installed in display cases on the second and third floor of the library, with explanatory text panels. To arrange a guided tour, call the art museum at (309) 794-7469. A comprehensive illustrated catalogue is available for purchase through the Augustana College Bookstore website, or by calling the art museum during weekday business hours.

The collection is dedicated to honor the donor, Kent Olson, and his family tree of Olsons and Brandelles, all of Swedish American heritage, some of whom attended Augustana College and were active in the Augustana Synod. While Kent Olson's career was that of an attorney, his calling in life has been to connect with Southwest Native American people through collecting their art. He has realized the importance of family relations in preserving artistic momentum; many times an early 20th-century matriarch inspired multiple generations of artists to follow, and to bring new ideas to their heritage. Thus the Hopi-Tewa potter known only as "Nampeyo" is represented in this collection along with works from her great granddaughters.

Most of the objects derive from cultural groups associated with Arizona and New Mexico-although works from Alaska, California, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Utah are included. The ceramic accomplishments of the Southwest Pueblos are the strongest of North American indigenous groups, reflecting a reliance on the most prominent natural resource of their arid landscape-the earth itself. There also are objects of northern Mexico, particularly those associated with the Casas Grandes ceramics revival that has reflected pottery traditions of the American Southwest.