Beaded and Beautiful:

Art Photography of the Miles Anthropological Collection

There is a very fine line between art and artifact, a line that is created seemingly arbitrarily by the application of age, context, and the term "archaeology." But where does that line truly reside? Can it be crossed? These are questions that art photographer Louise Shoemaker addresses in this series. 

Each of these images has three things in common: each includes one or more artifacts from the Miles Anthropological Collection, held at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, New Mexico; each artifact is beaded in some manner, be it glass, clay or shell; and each image is created to be a work of art, rather than scientific documentation.

When compiling this series Ms. Shoemaker made several deliberate choices. First, she chose to let the composition speak for itself, rather than focusing on spatial or temporal facts. Instead of whether or not two objects were from the same region or time period, she asks "what looks beautiful together? What speaks to the eye?" Second, she chose not to name the works, but instead to title them according to their museum labels. Each one includes the accession number (the number that places the item within the collection), the artifact description, and the materials, when known. In this way there is a relationship between art and artifact that exists in harmony, with each having its place and neither dominating the photos.

We're very excited to be able to bring you not only this online component, but a brick and mortar exhibit as well. We would love your feedback through the "Contact Us" page on the website.

Blackwater Draw Museum

1500 S. Ave K, Lea Hall Rm. 163

Portales, NM 88130


Blackwater Draw NHL
508 Route 467
Portales, NM 88130

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