News Column

"The Art of the Hunt" now on display at the Wyoming State Museum

July 28, 2014

By Josh Rhoten, Wyoming Tribune-Eagle, Cheyenne

July 28--A new exhibit at the Wyoming State Museum explores Wyoming's connection with hunting, fishing and the outdoors.

"The Art of the Hunt" recently opened on the second floor of the museum. It was put together after five years of research in a joint effort by the University of Wyoming American Studies Program, the State Museum and the Wyoming Arts Council.

The display includes 70 handcrafted objects like bows, knives, saddles and fishing gear and explores the culture that created them.

Specific interest is paid to the artisans that make these objects and then use them in the field.

Annie Hatch, the folklorist at the Wyoming Arts Council, helped create the exhibit.

"Hunting is such a rich area for exploration in terms of folk art because it is truly taught through experience and through the objects created and passed down," she said. "That is not something you can get from manufactured items."

Because the State Museum's gallery space is limited, the exhibition was narrowed to focus on big-game hunting and fishing and the items associated with those activities. Handmade objects on display include fishing flies, bamboo fishing rods, taxidermy, pack saddles, engraved firearms, knives, recurve bows, carved fish, leatherwork and beadwork.

Hatch said the exhibit really tried to focus on the artisans who create these tools then pass them down from generation to generation. Special attention was given to portraits of them making these works. There is also a section set up around a campfire-like area where visitors can listen to these craftsmen talk about their first experiences with hunting and making these tools.

"Gov. (Matt) Mead has donated two stories there as well," she said.

Another section of the exhibit explores how outdoorsmen give back to the areas they use through fundraising activities like one-shot hunts. It also looks at the natural materials, often found locally, that are used to create these items.

In addition to fieldwork done for the project, UW students helped plan the exhibition and took photographs that are on display in it.

The exhibit will continue through the year, and Hatch said special events will also be set up around it. The first is an artist reception on Aug. 1. Other events include panel discussions, skill-building workshops and demonstrations. Eventually, all of the materials gathered in the "Art of the Hunt: Wyoming Traditions" project will be archived at UW's American Heritage Center.

Hatch said she hoped hunters would take the time to come in and explore the exhibit, but she said even non-hunters could get something out of it. "Those of us that don't hunt can come and enjoy the artistic aspects of the gear and really understand how valuable this tradition is to our culture," she said.

If you go

What: "The Art of the Hunt" is a new exhibit looking at Wyoming's outdoor heritage and the objects it has created in the name of utility.

Where: Wyoming State Museum, 2301 Central Ave.

When: Open now through June, 30, 2015. Museum hours are Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Cost: Free


Phone: 307-777-7022

Artist reception: Friday, Aug. 1, 5-7 p.m. at the museum


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Source: Wyoming Tribune-Eagle (Cheyenne, WY)

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