Eiteljorg Musuem Blog
  • Eiteljorg Insider | Five Questions with TWO SPIRITS director Lydia Nibley

    by Jaq Nigg, Eiteljorg festivals and events manager | Sep 25, 2013

    Two Spirits director Lydia Nibley

    Lydia Nibley's Two Spirits is the powerful documentary that tells the story of Fred Martinez – a Navajo boy who was beaten to death because his killer believed he was gay. Martinez actually considered himself “Two-Spirit,” or “nadleehi” – a Navajo term for a male-bodied person with a feminine essence.

    At 12:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 28,  Two Spirits will be screened at the Eiteljorg. The film explores the bullying and violence commonly faced by LGBT people, and the epidemic of LGBT teen suicide. It also reveals the range of gender expression long seen as a healthy part of many of the indigenous cultures of North America.

    Lydia will join an expert panel this Saturday, at the museum, to discuss her award-winning film. But we wanted Eiteljorg visitors to learn a little more about our honored guest before she arrives.

    What is your favorite piece of artwork at the Eiteljorg?
    I feel drawn to historic artifacts that connect me to the people who came before—clothing and objects that were used every day.

    What inspires you?
    Finding stories to tell that can make a difference by opening hearts and minds to a new perspective.

    If you could spend an afternoon with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
    With my film Two Spirits in mind, Hastiin Klah, 1867-1937, the great Navajo medicine person, sandpainter and weaver who was third-gender. It would be fascinating to spend an afternoon in his company.  

    What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
    Patti Smith, who provided music for Two Spirits says, “It’s the artist’s responsibility to balance mystical communication and the labor of creation.” I love that.

     What is one of your favorite quotes?
    “Work is love made visible.” – Kahlil Gibran

    What should we ask you that you want us to know about?
    Will you ask me what’s next for Two Spirits? Thanks for asking! We’re working hard (with mixed success) to make the case to philanthropists and foundations that the film needs to be available in more colleges, universities, high schools and libraries nationwide. We get such great reports about the impact of the film—suicide prevention, anti-bullying, deepening the conversation around sexuality and gender in ways that make a difference now and in the future. We’re just going to keep asking for support and hoping…and asking.

    For more information about Two Spirits, visit


    The museum is asking for the community's support through the Power2Give project -which empowers you to give directly to local arts projects you are passionate about. It will cost $4,900 to bring the Two Spirits presentation to the Eiteljorg. Chase Bank is matching the dollars - but if we don't raise the full amount, the matching money goes away.

    As of Sept. 26, the Eiteljorg needs $1,635 to fully fund this LGBT program.  Any dollar amount helps.

    Go comment!

  • Bid on High-End Navajo Rugs, Oct. 5, at the Eiteljorg

    by Robert Tate, Eiteljorg director of merchandising | Sep 24, 2013

    On Saturday, Oct. 5, Eiteljorg members and visitors can raise their hands to bid on more than 200 Navajo rugs during the museum's annual auction. This year, Trader and auctioneer Bruce Burnham has honored our invitation to share his love and knowledge about contemporary and vintage Navajo rugs.
    Burnham’s family has been in the trading business for five generations, which makes him uniquely qualified to answer questions about collecting and displaying Navajo rugs and weavings. 

    The Burnham’s Trading Post is some 40 miles west of Gallup, New Mexico in Northeastern Arizona. Each year, they sell more than $1 million in rugs at 18 auctions. Proceeds from each sale go directly to the Navajo artists who created the rugs or weavings.  The artists gather at the trading post when he returns from auctions to collect their earnings. 

    Burnham, himself, lives on the Navajo reservation where his family has been trading rugs for more than 30 years. When asked recently whether he thought rug weaving was a dying art, he told the Arizona Daily Courier, “It’s not a dying art. There has never been a time you couldn’t open the back of a store and haul out more rugs than you can sell.”

    The Eiteljorg is privileged to have such a special relationship with the Burnham family.  According to their website, the Burnhams are credited with helping to develop several distinct rug styles including the New Lands Raised Outline, Burntwater, Germantown Revival and Spider Rock. Bruce Burnham is known nationwide for his expertise in buying and selling and his company’s innovation and quality in Navajo textiles. You can get a sense of what the Burnhams will bring to Indianapolis for auction if you visit their website at

    We believe this auction is the perfect opportunity for visitors to add to their collection or for new collectors to purchase a first rug or weaving. Those who attend the preview also have the benefit of holding rugs in their hands and examining them up close. The "Members-only" preview is also a great cultural experience which gives visitors an opportunity to learn about Navajo art.  

    Rugs sold at the event will range from $100 to $10,000. The average rug will sell for $350.

    If you’d like to see and feel one of the rugs that will be on display, make a trip to the Eiteljorg Museum Store where we have a 4X6 contemporary rug from R.B. Burnham & Co. on display.

    8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.
    Navajo Trader and auctioneer Bruce Burnham leads “Members only” chat 
    *Eiteljorg members only

    9:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
    General public arrives for auction preview

    11:30 a.m. – Navajo rug auction begins

    Go comment!

  • Eiteljorg Insider – 5 Questions with Amy McKune, Director of Museum Collections

    by Jaq Nigg, Eiteljorg festivals and markets manager | Sep 19, 2013

    As director of museum collections, Amy is responsible for the care and management of the museum’s collection. In concert with the museum’s registrar, she tracks all the objects in our collection and everything that comes in on loan. She works to provide a great environment (temperature, humidity, appropriate lighting, pest-free, and protection from dust) for the collections, both in storage and on display. And she maintains the collections management database that stores all the data we know about our collections so that the information is available to share with our public.

    amy mckune with george harrison's guitarFavorite piece of art at the Eiteljorg:
    Just like one’s children, Amy tries not to play favorites.  (Plus the curators might remember and accuse her of favoritism). 

    1. What inspires you?
    Beauty. I discovered as a teenager that I am dramatically affected by the environment in which I live. I feel better when I am surrounded by beauty…in art and in nature.

     2. If you could have any piece of art in the world in your home, what would it be?One of Monet’s Water Lily paintings. 

    3. If you didn’t work in museum collections, what would you do?
    My strengths lie in being able to process and handle lots of technical information and being able to make it understandable to others. I might be a technical writer. I’m an introvert, so that kind of solitary job is appealing.

     4. Do you collect anything?
    Yes…Viewmaster viewers and reels…mostly of places that I have visited.  I’ve even made some of my own reels as part of my Creative Renewal Grant received from the Indianapolis Arts Council. Several years ago, a job required that I spend lots of time going to antique shows and shops. I didn’t collect anything at the time and I wasn’t always successful at finding what my museum needed. So I needed another way to chase away boredom during those long days of walking on concrete floors through miles of antique booths. I grew up with Viewmasters (sadly none of those were saved) and they were an inexpensive way to satisfy my collecting bug. 

    5. If you could invite anyone to dinner who would it be?
    Several years ago, I had the opportunity to visit with Eugene McCarthy, former senator from Minnesota and candidate for the presidency in 1968 (and a few times after that).  Sadly, he is gone now, but I really enjoyed getting to know this brilliant, compassionate man. I’d love to meet Gloria Steinem. She became a real hero to me as a young woman in college and I’ve always admired her activism. Might want to include Martin Sheen as well. Again, he’s an amazing activist. That’d be quite the dinner party.

    Bonus Question: What would you serve?
    A great Barefoot Contessa recipe of panko-crusted salmon. In fact, maybe Ina Garten should join us. Or maybe a bourbon-glazed salmon that is really fabulous. I’m sure I would spend days pondering the menu.

    Go comment!

  • Support LGBT Programming at the Eiteljorg| Help us fund TWO SPIRITS film

    by Sally Dickson, Eiteljorg development manager | Sep 18, 2013

    "A gorgeous, moving, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting story, the kind of film that opens the mind and heart so wide they can never close as tightly again.” - Martha Beck, bestselling author

    The Eiteljorg is always “Telling Amazing Stories” and next Saturday's showing of Two Spirits is no different.  This powerful documentary about the brief life and tragic hate crime murder of Navajo teen, Fred Martinez, will be presented at 12:30 p.m. Sept. 28 - with your help.

    About the film
    Fred was part of an honored Navajo tradition - the 'nadleehi', or 'two-spirit', who possesses a balance of masculine and feminine traits. Two Spirits  mourns Fred and the threatened disappearance of the two-spirit tradition, but it also brims with hope and the belief that we all are enriched by multi-gendered people, and that all of us — regardless of ethnicity, gender, sexuality, or cultural heritage — benefit from being free to be our truest selves.

    Fred’s story is interwoven with the issues of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community and how its members are viewed in a traditional Navajo culture vs. a historical and modern Western culture. The horrible crime committed against Fred is just one example that highlights the conflicting cultural views and the potential hatred that Western culture can breed. As the film says, “between tradition and controversy, between sex and spirit, between freedom and fear, lies the truth.”  

    The museum is asking for the community's support through the Power2Give project -which empowers you to give directly to local arts projects you are passionate about. It will cost $4,900 to bring the Two Spirits presentation to the Eiteljorg. Chase Bank is matching the dollars - but if we don't raise the full amount, the matching money goes away.

    As of Sept. 19, we need $1,785 to full fund this LGBT program.

    You can support this exploration for the truth by clicking here and making a gift through Power2Give. Your donation, no matter how small, help us turn our dream of presenting this documentary and panel discussion into reality.  Sharing and giving are the basis of Power2Give – please share this with your friends; please give us a chance to tell this amazing story, ultimately a story of hope.

    Here is the schedule for the Sept. 28 documentary screening and panel discussion.
    12:30 p.m.           Introduction by Out West curator Gregory Hinton
    12:45 p.m.           Two Spirits film screening (54 min.)

    After the screening, Out West creator/producer Gregory Hinton will introduce a powerhouse discussion:
    1:45 – 3:30 p.m.  Panel discussion
    3:30 p.m.             DVD and book signing in Eiteljorg Museum Store 

    - Moderator: Jodi A. Byrd, Ph.D. (Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma), associate professor of American Indian Studies and English, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    - Lydia Nibley, director, Two Spirits
    - Brian Joseph Gilley, Ph.D. (Cherokee of Oklahoma), associate professor of anthropology and director of the First Nations Educational and Cultural Center, Indiana University Bloomington; author of Becoming Two-Spirit
    - Wesley K. Thomas, Ph.D. (Diné), chair/professor, School of Diné Studies, Education & Leadership, Navajo Technical College (Crownpoint, NM)

    Here is a preview of Two Spirits:

    Click for Video
    From the website,

    Go comment!

  • Meet Native American Artist-in-Residence Iva Honyestewa this Saturday

    by Linda Montag-Olson, Eiteljorg arts programming manager | Sep 16, 2013

    Each fall the Eiteljorg connects Indiana students with Native artists from across the United States. This may be the only encounter some students have with someone from another culture and the excitement is palpable as they realize American Indians are alive and well today. The public is invited to the studios on Saturday afternoons where the artists will be available to speak with visitors as they work on their own projects.
    Iva Honyestewa (Hopi)
    Meet her at the Eiteljorg, Saturday, Sept. 21
    1 p.m. - 4 p.m.

    This Saturday will be your last chance to meet Iva Honyestewa (Hopi).

    Iva is an award winning artist, who has been creating jewelry and baskets for nearly 20 years. Born in Gallup, NM and raised on the Hopi reservation, Iva owns an arts and crafts gallery in Second Mesa, AZ. Iva will share her basketry and the story of the Hopi baby naming ceremony, as well as talk about the Hopi path of life with visiting classes.  Students will consider and draw their own path of life, setting goals for the future as they work. 

    Go comment!
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