Art exhibit celebrates the bond of horses and American Indians


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The opening reception of a new art exhibit in Serra Hall on Oct. 9 appeared more like a gathering at a prestigious San Diego gallery than that of a campus display. The room overflowed with both art aficionados and students, eager to catch a glimpse of the newest display in the David W. May American Indian Gallery.

The student-produced exhibit, “Horses in American Indian Culture,” is comprised of artifacts and art that display the deep connection between the Southwest Native Americans and their four-legged brother, the horse. The exhibit shows numerous depictions of Native Americans’ connection to the horse, including jewelry, sketches, paintings and a full-sized horse sculpture painted by local artist Robert Freeman.

Students visiting the exhibit were impacted by the beauty of the art and the ingenuity of the student curators. Senior Lucas Barmeyer, an anthropology major and artist, was especially excited to see the artwork up close.

“I thought it was an amazing exhibit,” Barmeyer said. “For such a small space they utilized it well and have fascinating artifacts on display.”
Senior Lauren Klein, who helped in the creation of the exhibit, felt her efforts were a labor of love.

“A lot more work goes into it than you think,” Klein said. “ A lot of people see these galleries on campus and think that someone took 15 minutes and pasted stuff up, when in reality a lot of hours went into this exhibit.”

The student curators were assigned to do research on each item and choose which ones would be displayed. Most of the items in the exhibit come from the May family’s collection, which was left to the school in memory of their son, an alumnus of USD who died of cancer at a young age.

Joyce Antorietto, the manager for the anthropology collection, said the May Gallery has a collection of over 2,100 pieces of American Indian art and artifacts.

Antorietto is proud of all that the exhibit will teach students about Native Americans and their connection to the horse.

“These exhibit cases show some of the many ways horses were used by the American Indians, in their daily lives, in their creative arts and during spiritual or ceremonial occasions,” Antorietto said. “Horses were an extension of the owner. This exhibit attempts to acquaint the museum visitor about this special bond.”

Senior Catherine Carson, one of the four student curators of the exhibit, hoped to depict that bond through the layout of the exhibit.

“We start at a certain point and end at how Native Americans see the horse and the importance of the horse today,” Carson said. “It is a storyline that will keep people interested.”

Antorietto believes that the experience of attending the exhibit along with its specific and detailed layout will help students appreciate long-lost traditions.

“The exhibits that we produce help to initiate the students to a way of life that many times has ceased to exist,” Antorietto said. “Everything now seems to rely on instant technology and gratification, so many museums are a way to remember a different time in our past.”

Students are welcome to visit the exhibit Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m., and can also make an appointment for viewings outside the gallery’s normal hours. The Horses in American Indian Culture exhibit will be on display until May 2015.