The Adirondacks: One Dish, One Spoon

Wednesday, August 21, 2013 to Friday, October 11, 2013

Lecture by Caroline Welsh, Monday, September 16, at 7:00 p.m., Griffiths 123

Adirondack Pack Basket Workshop, Clear Creek Weavers, Friday, September 27, 9:30 – 5:00 p.m., Noble Center Papermaking Studio

wampum (woven beads)
Ken Maracle, One Dish One Spoon, 2007, glass beads and waxed thread, courtesy of the Akwesasne Musuem, Hogansburg, N.Y.

One Dish, One Spoon on the wampum belt depicted above represents the idea that hunting lands of the North American Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) were meant to be shared.  While recorded use of such a belt dates to the late 1600s, in 1887 Skanawadi (John Buck) of the Six Nations interpreted it to mean that the people had “entered into one great league and contract that they will all be one and have one heart.  The spot in the center is the dish of a beaver, indicating that they will have one dish and what belongs to one will belong to all.” 

Competing interests were not so easily abated, however.  In 1892, New York State created the Adirondack Park, in large part to protect the Hudson River watershed and New York City from the effects of widespread logging.  The State’s Constitution was amended in 1894 so that the forest preserve would remain “forever wild.”  The Park now comprises over more than million acres in a patchwork of public and private land.  With a current year-round population of 132,000, the region draws in millions of visitors annually for outdoor recreational activities.  Yet balancing environmental stewardship with land use and development is an ongoing challenge, as communities seek a healthy quality of life and sustainable economic opportunities.

color photograph of snow-capped hillside
Kyle Ford, Boat Launch at First Snow, archival pigment print, SLU 2014.1

This exhibition is presented in conjunction with Harold Weston and the Adirondack Wilderness: the Solitude of Nature and Adirondack Wilderness: Works on Paper, 1860-1960, curated by Caroline Welsh, former director of the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake.  Included is a range of artworks and artifacts related to the Adirondacks, both geographically and conceptually.  Late 19th-century photographic “artotypes” by Edward Bierstadt depict dense forests, rocky streams and newcomers to the region.  Color photographs from Eliot Porter’s 1960s series Forever Wild: The Adirondacks portray mountain views in and around St. Huberts, where Harold Weston painted in the early to mid-1900s.  Contemporary Mohawk sweetgrass baskets from St. Lawrence University’s permanent collection exemplify a traditional craft still in production, while a beaded map of New York State from the Akwesasne Museum is an indigenous artist's representation of settlers’ thoughts on the land.  Kyle Ford’s recent photographs are rooted in “American transcendentalism, the Hudson River School, and positivist survey photographers who were responsible for many of the early visualizations of the park,” according to the artist.  In addition, contemporary photographs by Nathan Farb, Melody Thomas and Richard Linke (SLU ’69) illustrate aspects of the natural world from the lyrical to the meditative.  Though over time these artists have explored a variety of subjects in diverse media, they bring their individual voices to the shared Adirondack experience. - Catherine Tedford, gallery director