Eiteljorg Musuem Blog
  • Why there are 62 body bags inside the Eiteljorg

    by User Not Found | Apr 25, 2013

                                    Bonnie Devine (Ojibwa),Manitoba, 2010, 62 Pandemic Body Bags

    Bonnie Devine’s work, Manitoba, is a powerful piece that is not to be missed. A prominent Canadian First Nation woman and 2011 Eiteljorg Fellow, Devine is a multi-talented sculpture and installation artist, as well as a curator and writer. Devine’s work often deals with issues of her culture, the environment and the Canadian (mis)treatment of First Nations people. Her work, Manitoba, is created with the use of 62 body bags, sent to a reservation in response to request for help during a pandemic.

    Robert Houle (Saulteaux), another prominent First Nation artist and 2003 Eiteljorg Fellow states this about Devine’s installation:

    "Manitoba is a story of surviving influenza and how pandemic body bags were callously sent to the Cree community of St. Theresa Point First Nation in northern Manitoba in 2009. The government of Canada delivered an ominous message by sending dozens of body bags in shipments of medical supplies for the H1N1 influenza pandemic. Once again, in the spirit of solidarity, Devine confronts any obstacle to human dignity with the compassionate rigor of a warrior. As a mother would take pains to comfort a child, Devine takes trauma to heal societal inequities."

    As the label in the Eiteljorg gallery reads: “This act is reminiscent of Native peoples being given blankets that were full of smallpox. Governments are clever, but rarely compassionate, especially to the first peoples (Jennifer Complo-McNutt, Eiteljorg Curator of Contemporary Art).”

    Visitors are invited to interact with the piece in a very intimate way. They can walk amongst the bags and see the individual names of reserves in Manitoba. Every person’s reaction is different. Adults often stand back in reverence or horror, confronted by the meanings of the body bags. Children are often seen running in and out of the maze-like installation or talking with adults to try and better understand the work. While every visitor’s reaction to Manitoba is different, it is definitely an installation you do not want to miss experiencing in person.

    Manitoba is one of several works installed in our contemporary galleries by Canadian First Nations artists. On display in the Harvey gallery is Home and Garden, 2009, Edward Poitras’ (Gordon First Nation) large-scale installation. In the Hurt gallery, visitors can see Faye HeavyShield’s (Kainai-Blood) quiet but powerful piece, hours.

    Have you visited Manitoba? What was your experience? Let us know in the comment space below.

    Ashley Holland

    Ashley Holland
    Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art



  • How We Made Noise with Guitars!

    by User Not Found | Apr 23, 2013

    Several pictures of Eiteljorg staff members talking to the media 

    On a chilly Tuesday afternoon in December 2012, I sat in the hot seat at the Eiteljorg. It was my second interview for a PR Manager job - and I was sitting at a boardroom table with curators, vice presidents and other decision makers. They all wanted to know whether I had what it took to get the word out about the upcoming Guitars! exhibit.

    Sitting there in my pinstripes, with butterflies in my belly, my goal was to make believers of this crew of quizmasters. As a longtime television news producer, I knew how to sell a vision. I knew this museum was about to install something very special - something that deserved placement on every local TV news and radio station and in every major print publication in this market. I also knew that upcoming exhibits and events like Indian Market & Festival and the Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship ought to be on this city’s radar.


    I made promises and shared some of my personal strategies for reeling in media. Pretty soon I had a couple of them smiling. Others were bobbing their heads to the beat of my ideas. And the one inquisitor who threw me for several loops finally started easing off that deadly serious side-eye smirk! After my interview with CEO John Vanausdall, I learned I had landed this dream job. But now it was time to deliver --- and fast!


    I started February 1. Guitars! opened March 9. That gave me a month to get coverage commitments. But before I could do that, I needed to talk to our curators, programming team and collections director about schedules, photography rules and vault tour authorizations.


    Thanks to our curators, collections and public programming teams, the stories behind our treasured guitars were able to come to life in print, broadcast and social media. And my media Wall of Fame is growing! 

    TheIndianapolis Star did a fascinating tour of our vault with our curators. NUVO previewed, then reviewed the show. The Indianapolis Recorder ran a story I wrote about jazz man Charlie Christian’s fabled guitar and the late player’s legacy. And Lou Harry, from the Indianapolis Business Journal, wrote a kick-booty piece called “Eiteljorg shows how the West was strummed.”  Then, there were the endless radio interviews. James and Johanna talked Guitars! on Bob and Tom, WFYI (twice), WIBC, WICR (twice) "Indiana This Week" and HANK-FM. And, we welcomed all the TV stations in this market: WTHR came opening day, WISH did four segments with Dick Wolfsie, WRTV ran previews in three newscasts and FOX-59 produced morning segments with feature reporter Sherman Burdette, and WFYI showcased Guitars in a 30-minute show called "Art of the Matter."  Pretty soon, our museum, known for its quiet, calming personality, was making a lot of noise!

    Now, nearly two months after the grand opening, Guitars! is still a hit. We’re packed on programming days and seeing a 30 percent hike in visitors over last year, when we hosted the popular Steel Ponies motorcycle exhibit. People leave our home feeling excited, inspired and culturally rich.


    I’m overjoyed about being able to share in part of the success of Guitars! So glad I was able to get a smile out of “side-eye” that chilly December day.  

    DeShong Perry-Smitherman
    Eiteljorg Public Relations Manager
    (I'm pictured on the left. That's my equally fierce coworker, Registrar Christa Barleben on my right)


  • Curatorial beats with a Western connection

    by Johanna Blume | Apr 18, 2013

    picture of guitars in Eiteljorg exhibit

    Throughout the run of Guitars!: Roundups to Rockers, we’ll highlight the top five guitar picks from an Eiteljorg employee and find out whether there’s a Western connection! This week’s playlist comes from Johanna Blume, Assistant Curator of Western Art, History and Culture.

    Assistant Curator Johanna Blume

    My music taste has often been described as “eclectic,” so you may not see a lot of rhyme or reason in my picks. Instead, think of them as five songs that I think feature particularly beautiful or interesting guitar playing:

    1. “Losing My Religion,” R.E.M., Out Of Time, 1991
    2. “Down By The Water,” The Decemberists, The King Is Dead, 2011
    3.  “Land,”Patti Smith, Horses, 1975
    4. “Modern Girl,” Sleater-Kinney, The Woods, 2005
    5. “Rainbow Connection,” Willie Nelson, Rainbow Connection, 2001

    You can hear the influence of the band R.E.M. on The Decemberists’ most recent album, The King Is Dead. In fact, Peter Buck, R.E.M.’s lead guitar player, contributed guitar to several tracks, including “Down By The Water.” When you listen to “Down By The Water” and “Losing My Religion” together, keep an ear out for the guitar and mandolin parts in particular.

    Patti Smith is one of the most influential acts in rock. Her 1975 album Horses was at the very forefront of the punk movement in the United States. In “Land”, Lenny Kaye created mesmerizing and surprising sounds with his guitar.

    On a more personal note, growing up in Western South Dakota, my friends and I didn’t have access to a lot of non-Top 40 music on the radio or through live performances. Thankfully, my best friend had friends in the Pacific Northwest who shared the amazing music happening in their neck of the woods with him, and he in turn shared it with me. Sleater-Kinney was one of my first introductions to punk and riot grrrl music.


    I can’t help but think of high school and my once turquoise and purple hair whenever I listen to them.

    On another personal note, one of my all time favorite songs is “Rainbow Connection,” first sung by none other than Kermit the Frog, and played on his little frog banjo. This version, performed by Willie Nelson, features some beautiful guitar playing, instead.

    So what do these songs have to do with the American West? In the case of The Decemberists, Sleater-Kinney, and Willie Nelson, the immediate connection is that they’ve all called the West home (Oregon, Washington, and Texas, respectively). But the connections run deeper than just where these artists have lived. Sleater-Kinney grew out of the vibrant riot grrrl and punk scenes that developed in the Pacific Northwest in the 1980s and 1990s. The Decemberists have been an integral part of the indie-folk-rock boom happening in the Pacific Northwest today. And, well, Willie Nelson is one of the defining acts in “outlaw country.” Even Patti Smith and R.E.M, while not from the West, are connected to our story. Both have influenced generations of Western musicians including The Decemberists, Nirvana, and a host of others.

    funk and brownstein guitars

    If you haven’t had a chance to see Guitars! Roundups to Rockers yet, or if you’re thinking of visiting again, be sure to keep your eye out for the guitars played by Carrie Brownstein of Sleater-Kinney, and Chris Funk of The Decemberists.

    Johanna Blume
    Assistant Curator of Western Art, History and Culture

    Go comment!

  • The Second Helpings Difference

    by User Not Found | Dec 11, 2012
    Right now, visitors to Jingle Rails: The Great Western Adventure can receive $2 off admission by donating pasta to our community partner Second Helpings. We asked Betsy Whitmore of Second Helpings to explain why these donations are so crucial, during the holidays and throughout the year.

    At Second Helpings, we transform lives through the power of food. We rescue safe and edible food from retailers and distributors around Central Indiana and prepare it into nutritious meals and distribute those meals to more than 70 social services organizations that feed hungry people. The meals are delivered free-of-charge to shelters, community centers and after school programs to those who may not always have access to a warm, nutritious meal.

    Why is a pasta drive so important for Second Helpings? We use 150 pounds of pasta each day to create the meals that are delivered to those who need them.

    We also use rescued food to train disadvantaged adults for careers in the culinary field, helping to eliminate hunger at its source. Graduates of the culinary job training program learn practical skills for meaningful jobs in food service, and they also receive training to help them be more successful, including resume writing, job interviewing and stress management. Many graduates continue their culinary training to become chefs.

    In 2012, we collected our 17 millionth pound of food and delivered our 6 millionth meal to our partner agencies. As of this year, more than 500 adults have graduated from our culinary job training program.

    Without hundreds of volunteers each year, Second Helpings would not be able to do its work. Second Helpings needs volunteers for its hunger relief, food rescue and job training missions. Volunteers can work in the hunger relief kitchen, assist in meal delivery or help collect rescued food.

    Each volunteer brings an enthusiasm for our community and a desire to combat hunger. To learn how you can help, visit

    Betsy Whitmore
    Communications Manager
    Second Helpings, Inc.

  • A “Picture Perfect” Holiday Gift Guide from Roberts Camera

    by User Not Found | Dec 03, 2012

    A “Picture Perfect” Holiday Gift Guide from Roberts Camera

     In honor of our National Geographic Greatest Photographs of the American West Exhibit, it is time to take a few moments to think about the camera lovers in our lives!  We all have a family shutterbug to buy for this holiday season, so here are a few ideas to help you find the perfect gift for photographers at any level.

     For the budget shopper out there, one thing I recommend is a small tripod. From time to time, every photographer finds he needs a bit more stability, so an inexpensive, portable tripod is a must-have for every well-stocked camera bag. One of my favorites is the Gorrillapod made by Joby. The Gorrillapod has a very clever design: the legs are flexible so you can wrap them around almost anything, like a tree branch, railing, or anything else that happens to be available. Joby makes many different sizes to accommodate a variety of cameras, from “The Original” ($21.95) for point and shoot cameras to “The Focus” ($99.00) for large, professional quality DSLRs. If you are looking for a more traditional tripod with a bit more height, then the Mefoto Compact Travel Tripod Kit for $139.99 is the winner. It folds up to only 12.6" and unfolds to a whopping 51.2" and can hold up to 8.9 pounds of camera. It comes in five colors and includes a nice little carrying case.

     Another inexpensive gift is an updated camera strap. The Black Rapid straps are an amazing tool for any photographer, especially an event or street photographer. These straps are designed so the camera hangs upside down on a sliding strap across the photographer’s body. This allows her to quickly grab her camera, get off a few perfectly-timed shots, and just as quickly secure it at her side and out of the way. Starting at $55.00, this very well might be the last strap the photographer in your life will ever need.

     A new camera is always a great gift too.  For the young photographer, I’d recommend the Nikon S01 ($179.95*). It's small enough for a child to use comfortably, and it’s stylish enough to turn an eye. The S01 comes in four colors, shoots great video and includes a carrying case and enough built in memory for over 3000 photos. If you’re buying for an adventure seeker, the Nikon AW100 ($349.95*) is the perfect camera. It is designed to resist damage when dropped from up to 6 feet, can function at up to 30 feet underwater, and can still shoot in below freezing temperatures! The Nikon AW100 will allow the extreme sportsman in your life to capture all of his adrenaline rushes.  Finally, for the photographer who never leaves home without a camera, consider the revolutionary Sony RX100 ($649.99*). This camera delivers DSLR quality images but is still small enough to fit in your pocket. Its massive 1 inch sensor and an f1.8 Carl Zeiss lens allow low light shooting capabilities beyond any other point and shoot camera available.

     What if you’re the photographer? Give friends and family the gift of your photography. Collect twelve of your shots and compile them in a 2013 calendar (available online for $18.95). Or, you could give a canvas print of a beautiful image, stretched and ready to hang (starting at $29.99). You could even have a book of your favorite photos printed as you wait ($19.99). Any of these gifts would be priceless presents, loved for many years to come.

     Robert’s Camera also has the perfect gift for the photographer who has everything. We now offer a new full line of classes for beginners and experienced photographers. We have a special purchase during this holiday season that includes a gift pack of three advanced classes for $125; that’s a savings of up to $100!  We also offer private lessons. 

    You can visit for our full listing of our class options.

     If you can’t make up your mind, a gift certificate is always a great idea. Or stop by either of our Roberts Camera locations (Downtown or in Carmel) to work with our knowledgeable staff to find the perfect gift for the photographer in your life.

     **Prices listed in blog do not include any current vendor instant rebates.

    Go comment!
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