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Totem with Cane

1978 William Dawson Born: Huntsville, Alabama 1901 Died: Chicago, Illinois 1990 carved and painted wood, metal, and plastic overall: 37 3/4 x 10 1/8 x 10 5/8 in. (95.9 x 25.6 x 27.0 cm.) A (totem): 37 3/4 x 10 1/8 x 10 5/8 in. (95.9 x 25.6 x 27.0 cm.) B (umbrella): 33 x 3 1/8 x 1 3/8 in. (83.8 x 7.9 x 3.5 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of David L. Davies 1992.37.9A-B Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 3rd Floor, 28A


Luce Center Quote

“I had never seen a totem. I was in the park one day. I was carving and a fellow came up and said, ‘Oh, you make totems.’ But I didn’t know what they were. My wife looked it up in a book in the library, and sure enough, I was making totems.” The artist, quoted in Folk Art Messenger, Winter 1990

Luce Center Label

William Dawson carved stacks of faces from old table and chair legs before he even knew what a totem pole was. These pieces show his distinctive carved faces, with wide, staring eyes painted a stark white against different colored backgrounds. He made totems in a variety of heights depending on the piece of wood, and they can reach up to four feet.

Keywords

Dress - accessory - umbrella

Figure - head

sculpture

folk art

metal

plastic

wood

About William Dawson

Born: Huntsville, Alabama 1901 Died: Chicago, Illinois 1990

More works in the collection by
William Dawson