Page 116-117 - March 2013 Catalogue

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The Art of James Bama |
portraits of the new west
Sage Grinder
is one of Bama’s most recognized paintings and a
perfect example of his vision for capturing theWest.“My model for
this painting,” begins Bama, “was a young Navajo girl, a student at
BrighamYoung University. One summer, on the outskirts of Cody,
she and a number of other Indians re-created an early native village
to demonstrate the manner in which the Indians lived before the
arrival of Columbus. Charging admission, they taught such crafts as
sage-grinding, cooking and the making of weapons.
In earlier times the right to wear a headdress had to be earned,
usually in battle.Today even women and children sometimes wear a
showy nontraditional war bonnet for pow-wow dance parades and
celebrations. Many men feel that their age is entitlement enough,
but others will not wear a headdress because they do not consider it
their provenance. Bama met a Pine Ridge Reservation Indian who
would not pose in a headdress even though he was 45 years old and
certainly looked venerable enough.
Sage Grinder
Crow Indian with Peace Pipe