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The New York Met buys the cradle of the artist Crow | state and regional

After his cradle won first place for beads at the Heard Museum’s art market, Elias Jade NotAfraid got a life-changing phone call.

A curator from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York was on the other side of the call and wanted to purchase his creation for the museum’s permanent collection.

“When I hung up, I was like, ‘Oh my God!'” NotAfraid said, adding that it took a while for reality to take hold.

NotAfraid, a 32-year-old Crow artist, had been working on the cradleboard, called “Life after Death” for years. When he first came up with the idea of ​​creating it in 2018, he immediately started collecting materials. NotAfraid visited taxidermists, butchers and pawn shops to collect 200 ivory moose teeth. Each bull elk has two ivory teeth.



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Artist Elias Jade NotAfraid is with the cradleboard that took him over two years to make.


Provided by Elias Jade NotAfraid


“Moose teeth are like diamonds in Crow culture,” NotAfraid said. “Once a moose decays, the only thing left is the ivory teeth.”

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She visited vintage doll shops, trading posts, and antique shops to purchase vintage glass beads, including some made in the 1800s, and collected 85 white weasel ermine tails. It took NotAfraid two years just to gather the materials for the project. He used smoked deer and moose skins to support the board, which is 48 inches tall.

Native Americans used cribs to swaddle and protect their babies. NotAfraid said most of the boards had a leather strap, so babies, wrapped in blankets, could lie down in the crib while hanging from a horse while their tribe traveled.

NotAfraid’s completed board recalls traditional models but with a modern twist. The embossed headboard features bright orange, red and yellow flowers inspired by a design NotAfraid found at her great-grandmother’s home. The bottom flower has a skull in the center, which according to NotAfraid symbolizes death and rebirth.

“When we die, we go underground,” he said. “And the cycle of life continues again. This table honors these animals that died to make it ”.

NotAfraid said the Met wasn’t the only museum interested in the cradle. The Art Institute of Chicago wanted to buy it, but there were complications regarding the use of ivory. The Smithsonian also contacted him after showing the board at the Santa Fe Indian market last year. But because the Smithsonian is a federal institution, NotAfraid said the process involved a lot of paperwork and personal information that it was unable to provide.



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The cradle of Elias Jade NotAfraid, “Life after death”.


Provided by Elias Jade NotAfraid


“I live in Lodge Grass in rez,” NotAfraid said, referring to the Crow Reservation. “I am in the mountains and I work outside the home, and I tried to register my business, and the system did not recognize my address on the rez. It was just difficult ”.

NotAfraid said he had always hoped the piece would end up in a museum. In the Met’s permanent collection, his cradle will be accompanied by ancient artifacts, paintings and sculptures by leading artists. It will be on display in 2023.

“To me, it just shows that anyone can come from a really dark place and do something great,” NotAfraid said, adding that she has struggled with opioid addiction for years. “I used the beads as a tool to make it.”

NotAfraid said he hopes this result will inspire others.

“It’s crazy,” he said. “I’m from Lodge Grass, in the middle of nowhere. And my work is at the Met! For my peers and everyone in my tribe, it shows that the opportunities are there, and you just have to be passionate about it and try. “

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