Going to Disney World: Native Art at Epcot Center
Entrance to exhibit

Photo by David Roark. Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World.

Photo by David Roark. Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World.

Seminole tribal elder Bobby Henry visiting the exhibition

Seminole tribal elder Bobby Henry visits the exhibition, which showcases the work of contemporary Native artists alongside objects from centuries past. The pieces demonstrate how ancestral American Indian craftsmanship influences modern generations. Photo by Kent Phillips. Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World.

Seminole tribal elder Bobby Henry visits the exhibition, which showcases the work of contemporary Native artists alongside objects from centuries past. The pieces demonstrate how ancestral American Indian craftsmanship influences modern generations. Photo by Kent Phillips. Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World.

Mother with son looking at exhibit

The exhibition features items on loan from the National Museum of the American Indian, the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum, the Potawatomi Tribe, Richard Hammel and the Wheelwright Museum. Photo by David Roark. Photo courtesy of Walk Disney World.

The exhibition features items on loan from the National Museum of the American Indian, the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum, the Potawatomi Tribe, Richard Hammel and the Wheelwright Museum. Photo by David Roark. Photo courtesy of Walk Disney World.

Ancient Resonance dress inspired by Acoma Pueblo potter

Fashion designer Loren Aragon (Acoma Pueblo) used the patterns on a jar (bottom right) made in the 1900s by an Acoma Pueblo potter as inspiration for this dress, titled Ancient Resonance.

Loren Aragon (Acoma Pueblo) and ACONAV, Ancient Resonance dress, 2018. Acoma Pueblo, N.M. Duchess silk, silk organza, habotai silk lining, leather, copper, cotton buckram.

Acoma Pueblo jar, ca. 1900. New Mexico. Clay, crushed potsherd temper, slip, mineral paint, carbon paint. Museum of Indian Arts and Culture 12055/12

Photo by David Roark. Photo courtesy of Walk Disney World.

Fashion designer Loren Aragon (Acoma Pueblo) used the patterns on a jar (bottom right) made in the 1900s by an Acoma Pueblo potter as inspiration for this dress, titled Ancient Resonance.

Loren Aragon (Acoma Pueblo) and ACONAV, Ancient Resonance dress, 2018. Acoma Pueblo, N.M. Duchess silk, silk organza, habotai silk lining, leather, copper, cotton buckram.

Acoma Pueblo jar, ca. 1900. New Mexico. Clay, crushed potsherd temper, slip, mineral paint, carbon paint. Museum of Indian Arts and Culture 12055/12

Photo by David Roark. Photo courtesy of Walk Disney World.

Art installation at exhibition

Throughout Indian Country, music has always been a unifying force in preserving cultural traditions. The songs featured in the Creating Tradition gallery reflect the regions featured. Some musicians evoke the land; others, such as A Tribe Called Red, incorporate traditional music into contemporary digitized creations. A mix of genres and styles represents personal backgrounds: Pamyua, for example, blends jazz and reggae melodies with Inuit and Yup’ik traditions. From beautiful harmonies sung by rock and roll legend Robbie Robertson (Mohawk) to the soothing melodies of the Sweethearts of Navajo, the music honors those who created the objects showcased in this exhibition. Photo by David Roark. Photo courtesy of Walk Disney World.

Douglas Miles Sr. (San Carlos Apache/Akimel O’odham) and Loren Aragon (Acoma Pueblo) both use the traditional designs of their cultures on contemporary clothing. Miles, founder of Apache Skateboards (San Carlos, Ariz.) was one of the first Native artists to paint on skateboards. Now he also designs shoes. He sees a connection between skateboarding and the Apache warrior tradition, since both involve concentration and stamina. The designs on Pueblo pottery influence Aragon’s textile designs. He believes that his work strengthens his connection to his family and helps push the boundaries of his ancestral arts.

Douglas Miles Sr. (San Carlos Apache/Akimel O’odham) – Apache Skateboards. Apache Classic skateboard, 2018. San Carlos, Ariz. Seven-ply maple wood, acrylic paint.

Franck Boistel, Douglas Miles Sr. (San Carlos Apache/Akimel O’odham), and Douglas Miles Jr. (San Carlos Apache/Akimel O’odham), IPATH X APACHE shoes, 2008. San Carlos, Ariz. Action leather suede upper, cup sole.

Throughout Indian Country, music has always been a unifying force in preserving cultural traditions. The songs featured in the Creating Tradition gallery reflect the regions featured. Some musicians evoke the land; others, such as A Tribe Called Red, incorporate traditional music into contemporary digitized creations. A mix of genres and styles represents personal backgrounds: Pamyua, for example, blends jazz and reggae melodies with Inuit and Yup’ik traditions. From beautiful harmonies sung by rock and roll legend Robbie Robertson (Mohawk) to the soothing melodies of the Sweethearts of Navajo, the music honors those who created the objects showcased in this exhibition. Photo by David Roark. Photo courtesy of Walk Disney World.

Douglas Miles Sr. (San Carlos Apache/Akimel O’odham) and Loren Aragon (Acoma Pueblo) both use the traditional designs of their cultures on contemporary clothing. Miles, founder of Apache Skateboards (San Carlos, Ariz.) was one of the first Native artists to paint on skateboards. Now he also designs shoes. He sees a connection between skateboarding and the Apache warrior tradition, since both involve concentration and stamina. The designs on Pueblo pottery influence Aragon’s textile designs. He believes that his work strengthens his connection to his family and helps push the boundaries of his ancestral arts.

Douglas Miles Sr. (San Carlos Apache/Akimel O’odham) – Apache Skateboards. Apache Classic skateboard, 2018. San Carlos, Ariz. Seven-ply maple wood, acrylic paint.

Franck Boistel, Douglas Miles Sr. (San Carlos Apache/Akimel O’odham), and Douglas Miles Jr. (San Carlos Apache/Akimel O’odham), IPATH X APACHE shoes, 2008. San Carlos, Ariz. Action leather suede upper, cup sole.

Exhibit pieces in display

In the early 1800s, women of the Chilkat division of southeast Alaska’s Tlingit people began to master a new weaving technique. With mountain-goat wool and shredded cedar bark, they wove fringed dancing blankets, using curvilinear designs that men painted on pattern boards. Known as Chilkat, the technique, which is still practiced, yielded widely traded ceremonial robes. They express the drama and complexity of the region’s Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian clan histories. This Chilkat blanket from Alaska dating to the 1890s complements Raven and the Box of Daylight, a 2017 glass sculpture by Preston Singletary (Tlingit). Photo by David Roark. Photo courtesy of Walk Disney World.

Tlingit Chilkat blanket, ca. 1890. Alaska. Wool, cedar bark, dye. Museum of Indian Arts and Culture 26160/12

Preston Singletary (Tlingit), Raven and the Box of Daylight sculpture, 2017. Seattle, Wash. Glass. Courtesy of the artist.

Haida bracelet, ca. 1920. Northwest Coast. Silver. Museum of Indian Arts and Culture 10450/12

In the early 1800s, women of the Chilkat division of southeast Alaska’s Tlingit people began to master a new weaving technique. With mountain-goat wool and shredded cedar bark, they wove fringed dancing blankets, using curvilinear designs that men painted on pattern boards. Known as Chilkat, the technique, which is still practiced, yielded widely traded ceremonial robes. They express the drama and complexity of the region’s Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian clan histories. This Chilkat blanket from Alaska dating to the 1890s complements Raven and the Box of Daylight, a 2017 glass sculpture by Preston Singletary (Tlingit). Photo by David Roark. Photo courtesy of Walk Disney World.

Tlingit Chilkat blanket, ca. 1890. Alaska. Wool, cedar bark, dye. Museum of Indian Arts and Culture 26160/12

Preston Singletary (Tlingit), Raven and the Box of Daylight sculpture, 2017. Seattle, Wash. Glass. Courtesy of the artist.

Haida bracelet, ca. 1920. Northwest Coast. Silver. Museum of Indian Arts and Culture 10450/12

Miss Florida Seminole Cheyenne Kippenberger, left, and Junior Miss Florida Seminole Allegra Billie, right

Miss Florida Seminole Cheyenne Kippenberger, left, and Junior Miss Florida Seminole Allegra Billie, right, of the Seminole Tribe take a close look at intricate American Indian beadwork and techniques that are passed down through generations. Photo by Kent Phillips. Photo courtesy of Walk Disney World.

Joyce Growing Thunder Fogarty (Assiniboine/ Sioux), Sioux Princess Doll, 1999. Fort Peck Reservation, Mont. Hide, glass beads, silk ribbon, ribbon, synthetic fabric, paint, brass bells, feathers. NMAI 26/5124

Juanita Growing Thunder Fogarty (Assiniboine/ Sioux), Doll, 1997. North San Juan, Calif. Hide, cotton cloth, glass beads, porcupine quills, brass beads, ribbon, commercially tanned leather, brass bell, shells, human hair, sage. NMAI 26/5121

Miss Florida Seminole Cheyenne Kippenberger, left, and Junior Miss Florida Seminole Allegra Billie, right, of the Seminole Tribe take a close look at intricate American Indian beadwork and techniques that are passed down through generations. Photo by Kent Phillips. Photo courtesy of Walk Disney World.

Joyce Growing Thunder Fogarty (Assiniboine/ Sioux), Sioux Princess Doll, 1999. Fort Peck Reservation, Mont. Hide, glass beads, silk ribbon, ribbon, synthetic fabric, paint, brass bells, feathers. NMAI 26/5124

Juanita Growing Thunder Fogarty (Assiniboine/ Sioux), Doll, 1997. North San Juan, Calif. Hide, cotton cloth, glass beads, porcupine quills, brass beads, ribbon, commercially tanned leather, brass bell, shells, human hair, sage. NMAI 26/5121

Walt Disney World Resort guests

Walt Disney World Resort guests listen to one of the three interactive videos in the gallery, which offer reflections from contemporary American Indian artists on their work and culture. When guests wave their hands in front of a display resembling a campfire, the “flames” transform into a video presentation. Photo by Kent Phillips. Photo courtesy of Walk Disney World.

Walt Disney World Resort guests listen to one of the three interactive videos in the gallery, which offer reflections from contemporary American Indian artists on their work and culture. When guests wave their hands in front of a display resembling a campfire, the “flames” transform into a video presentation. Photo by Kent Phillips. Photo courtesy of Walk Disney World.

NMAI Director Kevin Gover (Pawnee) and MIAC Director Della Warrior (Otoe-Missouria)

NMAI Director Kevin Gover (Pawnee) and MIAC Director Della Warrior (Otoe-Missouria) offered remarks at the opening event with Epcot Vice President Melissa Valiquette, July 27, 2018. The festivities also included a blessing by Seminole tribal elder Bobby Henry (at podium) and a stomp dance led by Seminole tribal representatives from the nearby community. Photo by Kent Phillips. Photo courtesy of Walk Disney World.

NMAI Director Kevin Gover (Pawnee) and MIAC Director Della Warrior (Otoe-Missouria) offered remarks at the opening event with Epcot Vice President Melissa Valiquette, July 27, 2018. The festivities also included a blessing by Seminole tribal elder Bobby Henry (at podium) and a stomp dance led by Seminole tribal representatives from the nearby community. Photo by Kent Phillips. Photo courtesy of Walk Disney World.

Visitors looking at handmade dolls

Walt Disney World Resort visitors are delighted by the intricate, handmade dolls by the Growing Thunder Fogarty family. Photo by Kent Phillips. Photo courtesy of Walk Disney World.

Walt Disney World Resort visitors are delighted by the intricate, handmade dolls by the Growing Thunder Fogarty family. Photo by Kent Phillips. Photo courtesy of Walk Disney World.

NMAI curator Emil Her Many Horses (Lakota) selected pieces both contemporary and historic to highlight how artists continually innovate while drawing on past traditions and techniques. Many of the contemporary pieces have never been on display. Her Many Horses worked closely with MIAC curator Tony Chavarria (Santa Clara Pueblo) to determine the exhibition theme and choose objects.

The gallery holds seven large cases that reflect geographic regions of the United States. An interactive touch-screen station offers personal reflections from three contemporary artists. A diverse selection of music plays throughout the space – another highlight of Indigenous artistic expression compiled by Museum staff.

This remarkable opportunity grew out of a pro-bono project of Walt Disney Imagineering. In April 2017, Museum staff working on a project related to signage and public spaces spent two days brainstorming with approximately 50 Imagineers. MIAC had undertaken a similar workshop several years previously. The American Heritage Gallery had been telling a story of African-American history with objects from the Kinsey Collection (now part of the Smithsonian’s collection). Walt Disney Imagineering next wanted to tell an American Indian story and asked the two museums to help them.

Creating Tradition: Innovation and Change in American Indian Art is scheduled to be on display at Walt Disney World, Epcot Center for five years.

App download Icon
Download our App

Enhance your viewing experience with our interactive iPhone / iPad app