Sucker Decoy

Media - 1999.67.2 - SAAM-1999.67.2_1 - 62689
Copied Buddy Wayman, Sucker Decoy, after 1940, carved and painted wood, aluminum sheet metal, ferrous eye hook, and lead weight, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Alastair B. Martin, 1999.67.2

Artwork Details

Title
Sucker Decoy
Artist
Attributed to Buddy Wayman
Date
after 1940
Dimensions
2 187 182 38 in. (5.518.06.0 cm)
Credit Line
Gift of Alastair B. Martin
Mediums Description
carved and painted wood, aluminum sheet metal, ferrous eye hook, and lead weight
Classifications
Keywords
  • Animal — fish
Object Number
1999.67.2

Artwork Description

Carved fish decoys are one of the earliest forms of American folk art. Hunters around the Bering Sea first used small bone or ivory decoys for ice fishing around 1000 AD. They believed that the decoys embodied the innua, or inner spirit of the fish. The practice spread to upstate New York and the Great Lakes, where it became a tourist industry with many communities growing around prime fishing areas. Ice fishing was banned in 1905, however, because the popularity of the sport had brought about a serious decline in large game fish. During the Depression, many hunters and fishermen turned again to fish spearing for survival. The decoys from this period are simpler, focusing on realistic shapes, colors, and movement rather than fanciful decoration (Steven Michaan, American Fish Decoys, 2003).