Monday, January 19, 2015

The Southern Traveler at the 2015 Lake Cumberland Show

The 20th Anniversary of the Lake Cumberland CLA Show (Feb. 6-8) is going to be blessed with one of the greatest exhibits of Contemporary works of art ever assembled.
The Southern Traveler
it is:
A Contemporary Interpretation of Arms, Accoutrements and
Provisions of the Mid 18th Century Southern Frontier
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Created by a group of artisans over a period of two years, The Southern Traveler is a collection of "artifacts" representing the personal possessions carried by a Southern frontiersman in the early to mid 18th century. The identity of this frontiersman has been lost to the ages - but perhaps part of his story may be told by the remarkable objects left behind when the traveler's journey had come to an end.

In the traveler's time, the history of the deep South had included almost 200 years of European and Native American encounters. The players in this drama included Spanish, French and English explorers, along with numerous native tribes including the Creek, the Choctaw, the Cherokee and Chickasaw. Together these nations and cultures established a tremendous trade network, reaching for the Atlantic coast to west of the Mississippi, and from the Gulf of Mexico to the Eastern Woodlands.

The pieces that comprise this unique collection reflect the rich cultural diversity of the early Southern Frontier. A few of the items are near reproductions based on existing original work; but many of the pieces in the collection would perhaps be best compared to "previously unknown" artifacts -new creations that draw equally from the wells of tradition and imagination.
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On Friday evening, February 6th at 7:00 (central time) Ian Pratt and Guy Monfort will be presenting a Power Point program revealing many of the subtle artistic expressions integral to this mind-boggling project.

Copy and photo supplied by Mel Hankla.


  1. There sure is a lot of quill work in that display. It would be great to see the evidence for quilled bags, pouches and knife sheaths in the SE. It honestly looks like it came from southern Ohio.

  2. Anonymous -

    We didn't miss the boat, you're just on a different landing than we are.

    Our quillworker on this project is an extremely gifted and creative artist. Her work is well researched and her methods are sound. I think that your critique may unfortunately be based on the incorrect assumption that all of the quilled pieces in the Southern Traveler collection were intended to represent items which would have been made in the South. This was definitely not our intent.

    The project represents a number of interwoven themes, one of which is the notion that our man probably traveled over a large area over long period of time. Judging by the pieces that he has left behind, we get a feel for the time frame and for the region where he may have spent much of his time. We may also recognize that not all of the items would have been made in the Southeast. While many of the pieces are intended to represent such, others represent pieces imported from Europe, and yet others represent domestically made pieces, but from locations other than in the Southeast. In traveling over a large area over what would may have been a number of years, our man would have come into contact with people from many different backgrounds who he might have traded with. The result is a richly diverse collection of items which hold clues as to their origins, their makers, possible chain of ownership... the possibilities are numerous.

    Most of the pieces in the collection are not direct copies of existing work, but are of course inspired by such. Much effort was made by all those involved to use their knowledge of original work to create fresh, new pieces that, while previously "unseen", are firmly rooted in tradition, albeit in ways that some may not expect.

    In working on and in presenting this project, we did not want to identify who our man was, nor explain our every intent. In part this was to allow the objects to "tell their own stories" and to allow for you and anybody else to "think into" what they were seeing and perhaps develop their own stories and questions about what they see. In a way, we hope to invoke the same feelings of wonder as when a new original piece is seen for the first time; we use our knowledge to try to sort out what we are looking at, and maybe also wonder about the stories this piece might possibly tell us.

    I'm happy to answer questions here that anybody may have.


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