For our annual Edward M. and Hermione C. Friend Lecture, we welcomed Art Heals: The Jingle Dress Project, an in-person performance of the traditional Jingle Dress Dance followed by a presentation and Q&A discussion with artist Eugene Tapahe and the dancers.
“The jingle dance of the Ojibwe people originated during the influenza pandemic of 1918-19,” says Eugene Tapahe. “It came as a dream to a father whose daughter was sick with the virus. His dream revealed a dress and a dance that had the power to heal. When the dresses were made, they were given to four women to perform the dance. When the little girl heard the sound of the jingles, she became stronger. By the end of the night, she was dancing too.”
Tapahe’s work takes this healing power to the land, capturing a series of images that document spiritual places where his ancestors once walked. Photographs from Tapahe’s Jingle Dress Project document an artist’s vision and act of healing during the Covid 19 Pandemic of 2020. The project is on view in the Museum’s Native American gallery, and in the BMA’s exhibition Voices So True: New Native American Art from the Clyde Oyster Bequest.