New World Chapeaux: “Not I, but Nature speaketh these things.”
Last weekend I paid a much-belated visit to the National Museum of the American Indian down on Bowling Green to see Infinity of Nations: Art and History in the Collections of the National Museum of the American Indian. I was particularly taken by the exquisitely curated headdresses.
"Throughout North, Central, and South America, Native nations have often been guided by leaders recognized for their abilities to maintain reciprocal relationships and to coordinate collective efforts through their oratory and judiciousness. The right within a culture to don a headdress such as those shown here depends first on the acquisition of cultural knowledge and second on the ability to use that knowledge for the benefit of the people. These headdresses represent the right of Native peoples to govern and instruct themselves according to their own laws, customs, and prophecies."
While admiring both the selection and intelligent presentation of these elegant pieces I couldn’t help but impudently recall another set of divine noggin accoutrements on display in the Alexander McQueen retrospective that I had the opportunity to encounter at the Metropolitan Museum of Art earlier this summer.
"In sum, your majesty will find, that we are come ashore into a New World, whereof we see no end. It may be, that some will say, into another Utopia. Yet not I, but Nature speaketh these things."