Jonasson lecture to focus on Mary Sully’s artwork

Phil DeloriaPhilip Deloria, a Carroll Smith-Rosenberg Collegiate Professor in the College of Literature, Science and the Arts at the University of Michigan, will present “Towards an American Indian Abstract: The Art and Politics of Mary Sully” on Thursday, March 9, at 7 p.m. in the Austin Reading Room in the Nicholson Library at Linfield College.

Between the late 1920s and mid 1940s, Dakota Sioux artist Mary Sully created a unique portfolio of art, completely unknown to contemporary American or American Indian art history.  Deeply engaged with modernist art and design, and with indigenous women’s traditions of the Northern Plains, Sully’s work is both aesthetically pleasing and conceptually challenging. In this talk, Deloria will offer close readings of several images in order to make the case that Sully’s art both belongs in, and alters, the canon of American and American Indian arts of the twentieth century, and that its engagement with ‘culture and personality’ anthropology helped produce a politics visible in both form and content.

Deloria received a Ph.D. in American Studies at Yale University in 1994. His research focuses on the social, cultural and political histories of the relations between American Indians and the United States. His 1998 prize-winning book “Playing India,” traced ‘Indian play’ from the Boston Tea Party to the New Age movement, while his 2004 book “Indians in Unexpected Places,” examined the ideologies surrounding Indian people in the early twentieth century and the ways Native Americans challenged them through sports, travel, auto-mobility, film and musical performance. Deloria is a former president of the American Studies Association, a past trustee of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian and an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

This event is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by the Jonas A. “Steine” Jonasson Endowed Lecture that honors Jonasson, professor emeritus of history, who was associated with Linfield for more than 60 years before his death in 1997. The endowment is used to bring in distinguished scholars and speakers in the area of history. Jonasson held the unofficial title of Linfield historian and wrote “Bricks Without Straw,” a history of the college.

For more information contact Lissa Wadewitz at 503-883-2719 or