Art museum

“Faces from within” exhibition presented at the Joslyn Art Museum


Sara meadows

Karl Bodmer (1809-1893), Hotokáneheh, Piegan Blackfoot Man, 1833. Image courtesy of Joslyn Art Museum.

The “Faces from Within” art exhibition opened at the Joslyn Art Museum on October 2 and will run until May 1, 2022.

The exhibition features watercolor portraits of a Swiss artist named Karl Bodmer, who was hired by a German prince, Prince Maximilian of Wied-Neuwied. Bodmer was hired to accompany him on a 5,000-mile round-trip trip up the Missouri River to Montana in the early 1830s.

Prince Maximilian hired Bodmer to paint the scenes of their journey. This included landscapes, flora and fauna, as well as portraits of native rulers of the Missouri River tribes.

The exhibition’s associate curator, Annika K. Johnson, says it is a flagship collection of the Joslyn Art Museum. They own the majority of Karl Bodmer’s watercolors and this is their first exhibition at the museum that focuses on Bodmer’s portraits of Indigenous rulers.

“We really focus on the biographies of these individuals, the stories they tell through their badges and the stories their descendants also tell,” Johnson said.

Karl Bodmer (Swiss, 1809-1893), Noapeh, Assiniboine Man, 1833. Image courtesy of Joslyn Art Museum.

A major component of Johnson’s work on the show has been reaching out to Indigenous communities to ask individuals to write for the show. There are just under 20 wall tags included in the exhibit, written by descendants of various tribes Bodmer encountered, including Lakota, Mandan, Hidatsa, and Yankton.

For the occasion of the show, they created a series of four mini-documentaries and each one focuses on an individual or community of a tribe that Bodmer visited. The films reflect Bodmer, but they also provide insight into tribal cultural centers, tribal colleges, and artist studios.

These 10 minute films can be found on their website on the exhibition home page, or on their YouTube channel as well as in the exhibition itself at the Joslyn Art Museum.

“I think what makes this show special is that these are just amazingly beautiful and very detailed pictures,” Johnson said. “And you don’t see these watercolors often, the watercolors fade if they’re exposed for too long, so we protect them a lot.”

Karl Bodmer (Swiss, 1809-1893), Chan-Chä-Uiá-Te-Üinn, Lakota Sioux Woman, 1833. Image courtesy of the Joslyn Art Museum.

Johnson also adds that what makes the show the show are the Indigenous individuals who contributed and participated in the mini-documentaries.

One cool feature offered by the Joslyn Art Museum is that students with current ID get 50% off tickets ($ 5 instead of $ 10) to the “Faces from Within” show.

Another major event will take place on Monday, November 29. They will be open at special times – 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. – as it will be their 90th anniversary. At this event, everyone can see “Faces from the Inside” for free!

The exhibition will be open until May 1, 2022.