Rare window into Native American tradition
Washington — Gibbs Library will host a show of Native American paintings by Henry C. Toll Wednesday, Jan. 9 through March 6. Toll was the father of Madelon Kelly, the librarian at Gibbs Library, located in the village at 40 Old Union Road. An opening celebration will be held at the library Saturday, Jan. 12 from 4 to 6 p.m.
Toll worked in New Mexico as an architect, first for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and then for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, designing housing and health centers on reservations all along the Rio Grande River. Throughout his years of working on these reservations, as well as the Hopi and Zuni reservations, Toll developed many close friendships with Native Americans and was invited to attend a wide variety of ceremonial dances.
At the dances, Toll never took photographs or even made sketches, as such activities would have disrespectful. Instead, he memorized the costumes and choreography of the dances, later making notes which he used to create the paintings. Because he felt he should not profit from Native American culture, Toll never sold his paintings. Archaeologists in New Mexico have praised them as a remarkable documentation of these Southwest cultures.
Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115 or email@example.com.