This Blackfeet and Winold Reiss poster is limited edition - only 100 copies printed!
Winold Reiss portraits of the Blackfeet people are universally recognized, most commonly through the use of the powerful calendar images in the international advertising campaign for the Great Northern Railway’s Empire Builder in the early 20th century.
However, what is lesser known, is that Winold Reiss established an art school that he operated near Glacier National Park for a few summers in the 1930’s. While Reiss influenced Blackfeet artists in attendance, Reiss’ art and design practice was significantly impacted by his interactions with the Blackfeet people where he incorporated rich geometric patterns and war art. Many tribal members modeled for Reiss’ portraits during his visits to Blackfoot Territory in the 1920-40s and lifelong friendships were created.
Cheryle “Cookie” Cobell Zwang, a Glacier Conservancy board member and Blackfeet Nation tribal member, had the idea of bringing some of the iconic portraits to the reservation as a means to increase tourism, and to share a unique story that she believes cannot be told anywhere else in the world. Chairman of the Blackfeet Nation Tim Davis and the Blackfeet Business Council supported the effort. “Many descendants of the people depicted in Reiss’ work, including myself, still live in Browning and surrounding communities,” said Chairman Davis.
Many of the original portraits done by Reiss are owned by BNSF Railway, the modern-day successor to the Great Northern, and the eight original paintings featured in this year’s exhibition entitled “Connections – the Blackfeet and Winold Reiss”, are on loan from BNSF beginning May 27th through the summer.
Art by Becca Wheeler