Eiteljorg Musuem Blog
  • Eiteljorg Insider| 5 Questions with Summer Peters

    by Jaq Nigg, Eiteljorg festivals and markets manager | Jul 11, 2013

    We caught up with bead worker Summer Peters who won Best of Show at the Eiteljorg Indian Market with her beadwork portrait Gentleman Jim. A single mom and full time artist, she is a tribal member of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe in Michigan, but lives in Phoenix, AZ. It was her first time coming to the Eiteljorg market and she blew everyone away with her creativity and talent.

    Summer Peters (Saginaw Chippewa), Gentleman Jim, Best of Show Winner at the 2013 Eiteljorg Indian Market and Festival

    1. What inspires you?
    What inspires me is fashion, places I've been to, experiences I've had, nature, people watching, and a desire to learn more. It doesn't take much. I see beauty in almost everything. I love talking about art with other artists. I like watching things being built.

     2. If you could steal any piece of art in the world to have in your home, what would it be?
    I'd have to bypass the obvious choices of the Mona Lisa or some Picasso painting, it would definitely be, Spirit of the Forest by Odilon Redon. I learned about him in one of my art history courses.

     3. If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?
    I would most definitely be an ironworker in the NYC skyline or some sort of home builder/architect/interior designer. I have a strong academic background in the technical side of building things.

     4. What is your favorite tool? 
    My favorite tool is my needle nose plier. It makes everything perfect! I'm very very very much a perfectionist about my work, even though they say nothing in the world is perfect. If there's an extra bead on my string and I've already attached it to the canvas, I snap it off.

     5. What do you listen to while you work?
    I usually turn on the TV and find a show that I can listen to. I don't really listen to music while I work. Music has a strong attachment to memories in my life, good and bad, so I don't listen to it. I don't like sad feelings seeping into my work.  One time, though, I turned on classical music and I was beading like a mad woman! I need to do that again. 

     About Gentleman Jim:
    Gentleman Jim
    is beadwork portrait of Jim Thorpe (Sac and Fox). The piece was created to bring attention to Native American people who have made great accomplishments in mainstream society.

    Go comment!

  • Plan your wedding, reception, meeting or party here at the Eiteljorg

    by Ariel Durell, Special events intern | Jul 08, 2013

    Couple married in the Eiteljorg Kincannon Learning Circle.

    Everybody starts somewhere.  For some people, there’s a clear moment of clarity when they “just know”.  Others experience a more gradual shift, but there’s always a beginning. My beginning has been at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art as an intern in the Rentals department. We work with organizations, brides, grooms and individuals who need help producing and catering exceptional events - like weddings, receptions, meetings and parties.  As an undergraduate business student, I hadn’t put much thought into the event and hospitality industry until recently – but I’m so glad I decided to pursue it!

    Being at the Eiteljorg for a couple months has not only deepened my appreciation of Native American art and cultures, but has also opened my eyes to a whole new world – the creativity, details, and magic that goes into making an event special for a client. 

    Creative centerpieces for a construction-themed dinner reception.

    A whimsical fairytale wedding reception.

    Uplighting helps to transform the ballroom.

    Everyone has their own individual dream for their big event, and it’s been so fun to see the Museum space transform from a nightclub into a fairytale, then morph from a construction-themed dinner into an Indy 500 reception, and back again into the elegant circular ballroom that I’m used to seeing. It’s been especially interesting to see how clients utilize the outdoor gardens.  Even though they have till the day of the event to move indoors if need be, we all keep our fingers crossed for clear skies on the big day! Some people choose to host their event entirely outdoors, while others split their time between the gardens and the ballroom. The outdoor space has been used for ceremonies, receptions and cocktail hours. We even had a couple ride into their outdoor reception off the canal on a bike! 

    I have really enjoyed all the different types of events that I’ve been able to participate in this summer, but there’s nothing quite like seeing a bride’s face when she first sees the Museum all decked out on her wedding day. Being able to be a part of creating such a special day for a couple, and helping to bring someone’s dreams, ideas and vision to life in a tangible and unforgettable way is amazing! And to think – this is only the beginning!
    If you'd like to have your next event at the Eiteljorg Museum, please contact: 317-275-1340 (Sarah Bean). You may also email us at: And, you can all find us on Facebook under "Eiteljorg Weddings" and on the Eiteljorg's website.

    Ariel Durell
    Special Events Intern


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  • Upping your art intake

    by Claire Quimby, Eiteljorg intern | Jul 02, 2013

    Climbing the stairs to the second floor at the Eiteljorg, you are likely to be drawn to the large steatite Buffalo Dancer sculpture by Doug Hyde before making your way to the main galleries. It’s easy to miss a very intriguing work located in this foyer. Tucked in the corner, like you used to see in the entry of every bar and restaurant, is a shiny cigarette vending machine.
    Did you do a double-take? Aren’t cigarette machines a thing of the past? And why would a museum be promoting tobacco consumption? This isn’t an ordinary cigarette vending machine – it’s an Art-o-Mat. The Art-o-Mat is a “fine arts vending machine,” refurbished and given a new purpose by artists Clark Whittington and Reed Maxwell. Whittington and Maxwell have reclaimed over 100 vintage machines and stocked them not with cigarettes, but small works of art for purchase.
    Clark Whittington unloading a machine to be refurbished.

    The machine itself is a beautiful piece of industrial design (check out a gallery of their machines here). What’s inside is equally cool. Spend $5, pull a knob, and the Art-o-Mat will deliver you a piece of mini art from one of ten featured artists – anything from prints and paintings to small ceramics, pendants, and even tiny quilts.

    A sampling of artworks for sale from the Art-o-Mat
    The inner workings of the Art-o-Mat

    It’s fun to pull the knob and claim your prize, but with the Art-o-Mat, you’re engaging in a different type of consumption from your typical vending machine purchase. Art feeds your brain and your soul. It’s good for you. And $5 in this vending machine isn’t just a monetary transaction. The Art-o-Mat helps disseminate the work of talented individuals. It also encourages people to appreciate something small but significant – a work that arose out of someone’s creativity and inspiration.artomat whittington
    Whittington helped found Artists in Cellophane, an organization dedicated to promoting art consumptions and making art more approachable.

    It’s amazing to see those kinds of benefits from an old cigarette vending machine. In fact, I think that’s the wonderful thing about the Art-o-Mat. Sometimes we think of art as being a thing you find within a museum or a gallery, something you see on a special outing, or something you have to go out of your way to experience. The Art-o-Mat is all about distributing art to the world through a mundane machine, making it commonplace and easier to enjoy. And we should enjoy art everyday – not just the days we spend in museums. If you can’t get to an Art-o-Mat (here’s a map of the 100+ machines nationwide), don’t worry. Here are a few ideas from our staff on other ways to get your daily dose of art:

     -          Scan the flyers and handbills posted at your favorite coffee shop. Local budding artists are always looking for new audiences.
     -          Step outside your usual routine and listen to a new genre of music.
     -          Stop to admire a public sculpture.
     -          Go the digital route and add a Daily Dose of Art to your Facebook newsfeed.
     -          Browse your favorite artist or medium online – many museums now offer access to their collections through their websites. (I like perusing the costume collection on the MET website.)
    -          Engage your inner artist and make something!

    Art is not something confined to a frame or inside a gallery. It is in everything and everywhere, but it is up to us and how we perceive beauty and novelty. – Paulina Constancia of


    Claire Quimby
    Eiteljorg intern

    Go comment!

  • Recapping the 2013 Eiteljorg Indian Market & Festival

    by By Jaq Nigg, festivals and markets manager | Jun 28, 2013

    Every June, the Eiteljorg brings gifted Native American artists and performers together with visitors for a celebration of Native American cultures. It’s a culmination of yearlong efforts as well as a “family reunion” for artists, museum staff and visitors. There’s always so much to see and do. Here are a few of the things I saw and did.

    Indian Market and Festival weekend started early Friday morning with artists arriving for judging and setting up in Military Park.

    Friday evening’s Preview Party is the official kick off of the weekend. Many of the artists were there and it was a wonderful and relaxed opportunity to spend time with them before the business of the weekend took over. The Best of Show Exhibit gave a chance to see all the prize winning artwork in one place, including Best of Show, Harrison Eiteljorg Purchase Award and the Helen Cox Kersting Award. Complete list of prize winners.

    Beadwork portrait, Gentleman Jim by Summer Peters (Saginaw Ojibwe Tribe of Michigan) won Best of Show. It was Summer’s first time at the Eiteljorg Indian Market!

    Potters, Pahponee (Kickapoo/Potawatomi) and Dominique Toya (Jemez Pueblo), admire the Harrison Eiteljorg Purchase Award winner, Love Gun, by Susan Folwell (Santa Clara Pueblo)

    Early Saturday morning, collectors and visitors lined up along the lovely canal path and West Street. Artists hurried to get to their booths and the sun warmed the day – but not too warm! A pleasant breeze and the shade trees kept things comfortable. As artists opened their booths and greeted each other, museum staff whizzed around on golf carts doing final tasks. Volunteers provided coffee, fruit, bagels and ice to the artists. The performers finished their sound checks. The food vendors started cooking and the media came for interviews. We were ready to open!


    Main admissions at 10am.

    I talked on camera to WTHR (NBC-Indianapolis) before Shelley Morningsong played her flute.

    The first stop for many visitors was the artist tents. Some artists sell out so it’s important to visit favorites early. Other popular destinations included the Dogbane Family Activity Area where kids of all ages created their own artwork to take home; the Delaware encampment and, of course, the performance tent.

    Rumors spread that artists seemed to be selling well: potter Jody Naranjo (Santa Clara Pueblo) only had two small pots left by Noon; Peter Boome (Upper Skagit) sold a bentwood box; sculptor Mark Fischer (Oneida) barely had anything left by the end of the weekend; jewelers Sharon and Richard Abeyta’s (Santo Domingo Pueblo) tables were always crowded; jeweler Jolene Bird (Santo Domingo Pueblo) charmed the Eiteljorg store folks with her sleek and funky inlay jewelry.

    Shoppers crowd the artist tents.

    Visitors discovered delicate jewelry, colorful kachina carvings, musical instruments, large sculptures and more. The food vendors kept busy throughout the day, selling Indian tacos, papusas, ice cream and, our favorites to cool down in the afternoon, lavender lemonade and Melmosas.

    The weekend was picture perfect – until about 3:30 pm on Sunday when ominous clouds in the West threatened and we made the tough decision to close the market early for the safety of visitors, artists, volunteers and staff.

    As artists packed up their artwork, they hugged lingering visitors goodbye; wishing them a great year until they return next June to see them again.

     If you missed this year’s Indian Market and Festival, make sure to mark your calendar for next year’s festival: June 21-22, 2014.

    Please share your own stories about the 2013 Indian Market and Festival. And, if you haven’t had a chance to fill out our visitor survey, please do.

    Festivals and markets manager, Jaq Nigg wants to say a big THANK YOU to all of the artists who come from so far and who are so wonderful; to all of the volunteers who work so hard and keep smiling; to all of our vendors who are the best at what they do and have my back when I forget something; and to the rest of the Eiteljorg staff who make being the Indian Market grand poobah the best job in the entire museum. A special tip of the cap to Erinn Wold and Lisa Watt who are crazy good at being my team.

    Go comment!

  • 2013 Indian Market and Festival signature artist Todd Bordeaux

    by Todd Bordeaux, 2013 Indian Market & Festival signature artist | Jun 19, 2013

    2013 Eiteljorg Indian Market and Festival signature artist, Todd Bordeaux writes about the importance of art.
    todd bordeaux
    I have a hard time saying that I create anything, for grandmother earth creates everything necessary for life. I rearrange natural, synthetic and found objects to mold beautiful, historical and sometimes controversial ideas into what is called fine art. There is no word for art in the traditional Lakota (Sioux) language, and my own understanding of art has no single, simple definition.

    I view art as a gift, a privilege and a responsibility to the ancient ones to carry on our original philosophy; our indigenous ideas of spirituality; and to correct historical inaccuracies. Having the opportunity to tell the stories of the original peoples of Turtle Island is truly inspirational. My fertility poles are one example of how my art communicates the teachings of our elders. Where today’s dominant culture is often male-centric, original indigenous philosophy revolved around honoring women with ceremonies for their health and the health of generations yet to come. The fertility pole contains amulets imbued with power representing all four genders acknowledging and honoring our homosexual, lesbian, and transgender brothers and sisters. These original teachings existed long before Columbus.  They are ancient ideas that today’s mainstream culture is just starting to accept. My work allows me to express new and ancient ideas; opening a pathway for humanity to evolve in a natural way. Art can help forge a strong and healthy culture.

    Art is also important for individual development. I view art as a way of constructing our own reality. When I complete a piece and a viewer sees and feels my intention—when they really get it—that interaction is illuminating and satisfying.  I hang photos of my grandmas and grandpas over my work space so they can see what I am doing and so that I remember and honor them. I want them to be proud of me; they influence all of my work. Wanting to impress our elders, our mother, father, our teachers, this is a childish bliss, yet very important for personal growth I believe this is achievable through the arts.

    Great art is the marker of great cultures. The ancient ones possessed incredible art unprecedented even today, and on such a grand scale it completely bewilders the mind. Studying it – some of it 10,000 years old – humbles and teaches me. It resonates for millennia. When we study ancient cultures, what do we look at? We look at their art. Generations from now they will study us by reviewing what artists create today. Art resonates... it lasts, remember that.

    Aho hecetu welo!   
    Todd LoneDog Bordeaux                        

    Todd Bordeaux was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota and is of German, Polish, and Sicangu Lakota heritage. He lives and creates on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation on the same homestead where his father, grandparents, great grandparents, and great great grandparents lived. Bordeaux states that art has changed his life, and since starting his fine art career at age 30 he has won 50 major awards in juried shows, including the prestigious Harrison Eiteljorg Purchase Award in 2012.

    Stop by to visit – and have a deep philosophical conversation – with Todd at Indian Market and Festival, June 22-23.


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