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Half Moon Night and Remembrance / Yatika Starr Fields


Yatika Fields created Half Moon Night and Remembrance for Recall/Respond (2019), a collaborative exhibition by Gilcrease Museum and Tulsa Artist Fellowship. The show featured works by contemporary artists—present and past fellows—that responded to Gilcrease’s collections of the art, history, and culture of greater North America.

“I visited the Gilcrease collection to gather information on Plains Indians ceremonial articles, and specifically the gourds and rattles used in ceremonial practices of the Native American Church. The fire, songs, and singing brought each of these gourds to dance with the rhythm of the processions of the night. They all hold recollections and memories; they all still hold the powers of those meetings.” —Yatika Fields, 2019

For this artwork, Fields drew inspiration from his research into Gilcrease’s collection of objects and archival materials associated with the Native American Church (NAC). The artist belongs to the NAC, and his collection research was informed by his deep knowledge of the ceremonial use and application of these articles.1 Adding another layer to Half Moon Night and Remembrance is its intricately hand-carved frame, which is adorned with gems to catch the light of a fire. Both painting and frame vividly recall the ceremonial existence of the gourds, beadwork, and other objects before they were in a museum collection, making them “dance” again. The prayerlike carving on the frame resonates significantly with the woodwork tradition of NAC gourd and gourd-rattle handles, and the frame is a powerful symbol and an expansion of the painting’s meaning, in addition to striking a balance between two-dimensional painting and three-dimensional object.

In Half Moon Night and Remembrance, the artist draws upon memory and lived experience to activate elements within the painting, connecting objects through time and space, from the past into the present. In this way, the painting can be seen as facilitating the reclamation of the objects in the Gilcrease collection, which were designed to continuously support and serve the Indigenous communities to which they belong.

—Jordan Poorman Cocker, Henry Luce Foundation Curatorial Scholar for Indigenous Painting Collection Research, 2021

This text was developed from an interview with Yatika Fields by Jordan Poorman Cocker, May 20, 2021

1 Both the identification and the meaning of imagery in the artwork have been withheld. The function of these objects in ceremonies and the symbolism of their presence in Half Moon Night and Remembrance are sacred and not for the general public.

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Half Moon Night and Remembrance
Yatika Starr Fields (Artist)
Native American; Osage, Cherokee, Muscogee (Creek)
oil on canvas
Object Type: 
Credit Line: 
Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Accession No: 
Previous Number(s): 
On View

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