Exploring American History through Adams State College

(02-11-2008)

A brave and proud medicine man stands tall, with his arms reaching toward the expansive sky of the open plains of the great American West. He is making an offering of a peace pipe, to the Great Spirit, with the hope that the Spirit will bring harmony to his people. As he raises the pipe to the heavens, he looks for evidence in the sky of where the Spirit may be. In that moment, the medicine man becomes one with his surroundings, and is filled with emotion, reverence, and the sincerity of worship. This moment was created and captured by artist Allan Houser, a Chiricahua Apache Indian, who enriched American history by giving us a view into his culture's past.

Houser's great significance reached the American art and historical communities and found a global niche that allowed him, as well as others, to display North American indigenous arts. He is quoted as being the "Patriarch of Native American Sculpture." Houser's commitment to several mediums of art, as well as the portrayal of his culture, is evident in all his pieces displayed in museums, galleries, and private collections worldwide.

Adams State College is a part of that collective history, "Offering to the Great Spirit" by Houser, is part of the permanent collection in the Luther Bean Museum, and is February's "artifact of the month." The sculpture was purchased by Adams State when the college was in a transitional period. In 1992, Adams State hosted an "Exhibition of Sculpture by Allan Houser," that same year Adams State changed the mascot from the Indians to the Grizzlies.

This sculpture is a memento of Adams State's legacy. According to Cloyde Snook, emeritus professor of art, Dr. William Fulkerson, Adams State president from 1981 until 1994, initiated a Houser exhibition after being inspired by Houser's great work. Snook said Fulkerson called upon the arts and humanities committee to make his vision a reality. The vision included an exhibition in Hatfield Gallery as well as a reception honoring Houser.

After the exhibition was complete, Fulkerson encouraged the Adams State College Foundation to purchase a Houser sculpture. Snook chose the bronze, "Offering to the Great Spirit."

The Luther Bean Museum, located in Richardson Hall, room 256, is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Call 719-587-7151 for information.

Review by Meghan Glick

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