Artist Mona Bear Medicine Crow
Nation Apsàalooke (Crow)
Date 2017
Size 38 x 38 cm
MaterialAcrylic on canvas

Originally a bag painted on both sides, this piece was unpicked to be displayed as a flat canvas, after consultation with the artist.

Medicine Crow paints various styles of bag with Crow Tribal designs. These designs were originally painted on parfleche bags. Used for transporting many things, from preserved foods to clothing, these bags were often tied to horses’ saddles. The designs include rectangular and triangular patterns. Some say these represent mountains, others, the pattern on horny toads. The traditional Crow colours are pale pink and pale blue, said to reflect the colours of sunrise (McCleary,T., 2017, pers. comm.).

“The horses have been a big blessing to me, […they] kinda gave me back my love for painting.[…] I love my art. We’re a culture that love our horses. We think of them as our brothers and sisters, so we have a great respect for them, and all other creatures, I believe. It’s something that’s gone back for hundreds of years, I think, regarding animals in general. They have a lot of medicine, or like, spiritual power, associated with them, and so the horse is definitely a huge factor in Plains culture.

“I naturally went into that [drawing horses] here, because you see them around here, and they’re living amongst us, especially during the Fair times, in the summer powwow, you see the horses in parades. […] They’re in your life in a more everyday kind of deal.

“[…] we just grew up with horses, ever since I was a baby, it was something consistent. You wake up and there’s the horses outside, in the field running around. […] It was just part of the terrain. And my dad taught us to have great respect for them, for any animal that you cared for. […] That’s how he raised us. I love horses. […] It’s still nice memories, thinking back, as a kid, riding our horses […], having that power – I love that - it was a real sense of, you know, you felt really alive! Invigorated. And having great respect for their speed, this powerful beautiful creature.”

Mona Bear Medicine Crow