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The Kersting Collection of Southwestern Cultural Arts

by James H. Nottage, Eiteljorg vice president and chief curatorial officer | Oct 03, 2014

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Weavings in the Eiteljorg's Southwest gallery.


Have you visited the Eiteljorg’s Native American galleries lately? Changes began taking place in July and the major reason for this is that we have taken the opportunity to feature donations from Helen Cox Kersting in the Southwest and California sections.  Helen has continued to actively support the museum, joining us with her companion Donald DeWitt at the 25th anniversary gala in late May. Just a few months ago, collections and curatorial staff visited their home in Arizona to pack and move the last of Helen’s collection to Indianapolis. To date, Helen Kersting has donated an astonishing collection of jewelry, pottery, weavings, Katsina carvings, baskets, paintings and other objects numbering over 1,000 items!

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Eva Salazar (Kumeyaay), snake basket, 1990-2008, installed in newly created basket exhibit. Gift: Courtesy of Helen Cox Kersting in memory of Dr. Hans Joachim Kersting.

Helen Cox Kersting 2013For the Eiteljorg staff, working with Helen Kersting has been a highlight of our careers. For the future of the Eiteljorg Museum, we have gained significant strength in our collection with masterworks from Navajo, Hopi, Zuni, Santa Clara, San Ildefonso, Acoma, Zia, San Juan, and other cultures. Prior to 2008, our collection expressive of these cultural areas was small and undistinguished.  Today, our holdings are admired by colleagues, artists and the general public. When the original Kersting gift was exhibited and published in 2010 the greatest obvious strengths were in pottery and jewelry. In the years since, Helen has focused on adding to these areas while building strength in other areas of the collection. In particular this is true of Katsina carvings and Navajo weavings. New installations in the gallery are now featuring some of the weavings, more baskets, and jewelry.  In coming months you will see additional evidence of how the collection has been enriched.

            We all deeply appreciate what will be the lasting legacy of Helen Cox Kersting’s collection at the Eiteljorg Museum.  When you visit, admire her contributions. Consider writing a letter of thanks to her and send it to my attention at the museum. I know she would appreciate your thoughts.

NA GALLERY CHANGES 3Larry Vasquez (Aztec/Mayan/Mescalero Apache, born 1947), necklace of Lone Mountain fossil turquoise and gold. Gift of Helen Cox Kersting, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Eiteljorg Museum.

1 Comment

  1. 1 Bryn Potter 27 Oct
    The Kersting Collection contains a number of beautiful and important baskets - thank you Helen for sharing them with the world through the Eiteljorg.

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