Often the uniqueness of a piece stands out more than something that follows the trend. For Hunter Old Elk, the curatorial assistant of the Plains Indian Museum, this rings true for a particular beaded bag in the museum’s collection.
“This is one of my favorite pieces because it speaks a lot to this idea of imperfections, in uneven beating,” said Old Elk. “And you know the bag has little symmetry and it's got imperfections and uneven beating.”
The flat beads and vibrant colors stitched with a two line stitch point towards it being of the Salish Plateau tribes, but the actual origin of the bag is unknown. With beaded pieces perfect symmetry is usually a way to identify a talented beader but this bag has little symmetry.
“I think that's what makes it so, so special. There isn't this influence in, you know, how we define art or the ways in which that art principles tell you what is beautiful and what's not,” said Old Elk. “I look at this I can feel that each one of the tulips is telling its own story.”