Indian Symbols

Indian Symbols Plate IV Feather Series RYB

Clare Smith (b. 1908 - d. 1998)

Indian Symbols Plate IV Feather Series RYB

1980

color intaglio

Galesburg Civic Art Center Permanent Collection

This abstract print utilizes such Native American imagery as feathers and the suggestion of a luminous sacred landscape. Smith studied art at Knox College in the early 1970s and later trained at the prominent print studio Atelier 17 in Paris, France. It was there she learned the innovative technique of color viscosity printing, which was pioneered by the renowned British Surrealist Stanley William Hayter, who founded Atelier 17 in 1927. The technique was employed in this work and involves the use of etching and a layering of inks to produce multi-colored prints from a single plate. Smith often depicted Native American themes that were inspired by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s 1855 epic poem the Song of Hiawatha, a highly romanticized and fictional account of Native American culture. Yet, Smith had a genuine interest in the religious beliefs and tribal art forms of indigenous cultures in the Midwest. She employed an abstract pattern of ceremonial motifs integrated with brightly colored organic shapes to convey a Native American vision of spiritual unity with nature. Smith’s artistic exploration of this imagery coincided with active local interest in the archeological discovery and preservation of ancient Native American burial mounds in nearby Fulton County, Illinois during the 1970s.    

Meredith Beck