These examples reflect the accomplishments of five master artists, including Rhonda Holy Bear, Joyce Growing Thunder, Juanita Growing Thunder Fogarty, Jessa Rae Growing Thunder, and Jamie Okuma.
“This is a singular collection in the world of contemporary Indigenous art, impossible to replicate,” said David M. Roche, Director and CEO, during the announcement. “The dolls reflect customary cultural practices, including skin painting and sewing with porcupine quills and glass beads, but on such a transcendent level that they are truly world-class works of art. This donation will immeasurably strengthen and improve the Heard collection, and we are deeply grateful to Chuck and Valerie Diker for their generosity.
The collection is currently on display at the Heard Museum at the Sandra Day O’Connor Gallery as part of the exhibition Grand Procession: Contemporary Plains Indian Dolls from the Collection of Charles and Valerie Diker. In 2010, the collection was the subject of an exhibition and publication by the Denver Art Museum. Many of the works in the Diker Collection have been generously loaned to other museums in the United States, including the Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois, and the Montclair Art Museum in Montclair, New Jersey.
“When we first discovered these sculptural figures, each with tiny authentic examples of all the objects from the Plains lore, it was eye-opening for Val and me,” Diker noted. “We could now appreciate the totality of Native American creative expression on a whole new level. The sculptures represent the vast aesthetic of a glorious people of the American plains. Because our figures are contemporary, they speak to us of today and tomorrow, while preserving a living and dynamic history. We would like to thank the management of the Heard Museum for allowing us to share these works of art with future generations.
The gift will be commemorated by a new scholarly publication written by the Heard Museum’s chief curator, Diana Pardue, and others. Educational programs will be organized in conjunction with the exhibition and subsequent and ongoing display of works from the collection.
The exhibit is featured on the Heard’s website at hear.org/exhibits/grand-procession, as well as on the Museum’s social media channels.