Bringing Friends Together: Contemporary Hopi Carvings From the Eagle, Perelman and Rader Collections

By Scott Shoemaker, Ph.D. (Miami Tribe of Oklahoma), the Thomas G. and Susan C. Hoback curator of Native American art, history and culture

Dennis Tewa (Hopi, born 1945)
Takursh Mana
Cottonwood, paint
Gift of Michael and Juanita Eagle

Over the past few years, the Eiteljorg Museum has received sizeable donations of contemporary Hopi carvings from three groups of dear friends of the museum: Mike Eagle and the late Juanita Eagle, Mel and Joan Perelman and Terry and Becky Rader. Through their involvement with the museum, the Eagles, Perelmans and Raders developed a friendly rivalry in their collecting of carvings and deep relationships with the many Hopi artists from whom they collected.

These contemporary carvings express motion and change — of the figures themselves and the ways in which Hopi artists continue to adapt their work made specifically for sale since the early 20th century. Contemporary carvings made for sale are derived from and yet very different from the carvings made by katsinam — special spiritual beings among the Hopi. The katsinam create dolls to give to young girls to educate them about their responsibilities and roles in the future.

Aaron Fredericks (Hopi, born 1964)
Cottonwood, paint

Gift of Mel and Joan Perelman

Many factors have contributed to the change of contemporary Hopi carvings over time. Carvings from the Eagle, Perelman and Rader collections represent a recent shift of many artists to only using a single piece of cottonwood with intricate details that add to a sense of motion and movement to the figures. Carvings of katsinam, koyala (clowns), and others such as the Warrior Mouse add to the diverse ways in which each artist depicts motion, history, humor and commentary on present-day topics. Some of the artists whose work is included in the exhibit are: Cecil Calnimptewa, Jr.; Nuvadi Dawahoya; Jonathon Day; Aaron Fredericks; John Fredericks; Arthur Holmes, Sr.; Arthur Holmes, Jr.; Aaron Honanie; Brian Honyouti; Ronald Honyouti; Stetson Honyumptewa; Wilmer Kaye; Alfred “Bo” Lomahquahu; Loren Philips; Marlon Pinto; Kevin Pochoema; Ed Tewanema and many others.

The collecting activities of the Eagles, Perelmans and Raders grew out of their friendships with the Eiteljorg Museum, with one another and with the artists themselves. The Eiteljorg is honored to have received these gifts from friends, and we will be sharing them with the public in the upcoming exhibition as part of the museum’s 30th anniversary year.

Neil David Sr. (Hopi, born 1944)

Tuhavi and Koyemsi
Cottonwood, paint
Gift of R. Terrance and Rebecca J. Rader


From the Eagle, Perelman and Rader Collections
MAR 30–JUL 28
Gerald and Dorit Paul Gallery


Note: This article originally appeared in the February 2019 issue of Storyteller magazine.

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