Archive for the ‘Native American’ Category

My next project is underway incited by David E. Stannard’s book AMERICAN HOLOCAUST: The Conquest of the New World (Oxford University Press, 1992). Stanard gives an undeniable fully documented account of the horrors of genocide and mass destruction of America’s indigenous peoples upon European first contact and centuries following. Much of the American Indian population was reduced by 98% (or extinct) within 50 short years. 98%! The violence, racism and “God-granted” entitlement devastated sophisticated intelligently organized Indian nations and cultures. Reading this book isn’t easy and has to be taken, for me, in small doses.

Last month I took my mom to her hairdresser and while waiting for her, another beautician and her client were ruminating on politics favoring Republican ideas especially applauding the idea of building a wall. My nerves raw from reading the unfortunate events following 1492, I uncharacteristically spoke out after blowing a groan from puffed cheeks; “That’s insane. The American Indians should have built a wall!” I was surprised the two Caucasian strangers, the beautician and and her client, did not shun me but mumbled a quick agreement, “May-Be.”

I am considering THEY SHOULD HAVE BUILT A WALL as the title for this next project instead of my working title “American Holocaust”.

Here is a picture of a rough layout for the first in this series. The main element will be an oil painting portrait of Columbus framed by quilt squares and overlaid with a sketch to be embroidered of a wild baboon.

Christopher Columbus, Build a wall, Sunbonnet appliqué,Tamara Ann Burgh,

Rough layout and elements for first in series: THEY SHOULD HAVE BUILT A WALL         Approx  52″ X 40″

Christopher Columbus portrait will be oil on canvas. The canvas will be overlaid with an embroidered “sketch” of a baboon (wild, unconscious, uninspired devouring behavior).


Quilting will frame the oil painting. Quilting represents the pioneer spirit, comfort and safety but also a sentimentalizing and romanticizing (and by default revisionist) of what actually took place — slaughter, starvation, slavery, disease and genocide — for those pioneers to claim a place in the new world.

I altered the traditional and popular sunbonnet patterns by changing the farmer style/straw hats to Spanish Conquistador helmets.

sunbonnet pattern

Traditional sunbonnet applique pattern



Pioneer with conquistador heritage, cotton and burlap appliqué and silver thread

Planned portraits in the series are:

Columbus, Cortez, Pedro de Alvarado, Vasco Nunez de Balboa, Cotton Mather and others.

American Holocaust by David E. Stannard book



Copyright Tamara Ann Burgh 2016

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Fifteen years after I set the first color pencil to a found early twentieth century photograph, the body of work (16 pieces) titled THE ENCULTURATED WHITE MAN: If Early America Had Embraced the Nobel Savage Instead of Attempting to Destroy it is coming to a finish. The work has been invited to to an exhibit in Flagstaff, AZ this November; details to come. During the following weeks I will be showing the series. A description of the work and my thoughts that inspired the work can be found on my website pages The Enculturated White Man.

The Enculturated White Man

EMW_01: 90″ X 27 1/2″ X 16 1/2″ Polychrome wood, color pencil on found B&W early 20th c photo, feathers, needlework, abalone shell, shell, sticks, twine, copper wire, cotton fabric, cotton velvet, buttons, gold braid.

It is difficult to get a sense of the scale with the above picture but the piece is 7 1/2 feet tall. The work is all done by me: color pencil drawing on found photo, needlework matting the photo, frame construction and carving and construction of the stands. This piece was inspired by Northwest Coast Native American Tribes.

The Enculturated White Man

EWM_01, Found early 20th c B&W photo altered with color pencil, carved polychrome wood, abalone shell, shell, twine, cotton, feathers, sticks, cotton material, cotton thread, silk, buttons

The Enculturated White Man

Found B&W early 20th c photo altered with color pencil by the artist, cotton threads, silk threads, cotton fabrics, buttons

copyright Tamara Ann Burgh all rights reserved, 2015

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