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Art helps people to see not just a particular piece of art but to see the world about you with fresh eyes. The best of art opens our eyes to see beauty even in things we scarcely noticed previously. Where we saw disorder and little visual stimulus, we now have a new perception. The art may be abstract, it might be an assemblage of objects that individually are banal, but through a new juxtaposition our mind perceives an order, a meaning greater than the parts.

G. Peter Jemison (Seneca, Heron Clan)
G. Peter Jemison, Halley's Cardinal Comet, 1986. Mixed media on paper bag, 12 x 6 3/4 x 17 inches (30.48 x 17.15 x 43.18 cm). Collection of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. Museum purchase, 2022.23.1. © G. Peter Jemison.
G. Peter Jemison, Halley's Cardinal Comet, 1986. Mixed media on paper bag, 12 x 6 3/4 x 17 inches (30.48 x 17.15 x 43.18 cm). Collection of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. Museum purchase, 2022.23.1. © G. Peter Jemison.

Halley’s Cardinal Comet is the first work by G. Peter Jemison to enter the Nasher Museum’s collection. The artist started making “The Paper Bag Series” while he was a curator of the American Indian Community House Gallery in New York. Jemison was inspired by paper bags he often saw on the New York City subway. He believes in the transformative potential of art, which has led him to embrace unconventional or everyday materials such as paper bags.

Halley’s Cardinal Comet combines images of a cardinal with photographed and drawn scenes of nature, along with renderings of Halley’s comet. The title refers to the comet, an astronomical body that appears and is visible to the naked eye once every 75-79 years. The year 1986, when the work was created, was the last time the comet appeared in our solar system and was a significant astronomical event.

Jemison’s title is a play on words suggesting a conflation of the comet’s appearance, the cardinal and a general sense of direction (i.e. a cardinal direction). In doing so, the artist combines the banal to give new perspective on the beauty of nature. His work intends to embody “orenda,” the traditional Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) belief that every living thing and every part of creation contains a spiritual force.

Jemison earned a degree in art education from Buffalo State College, Buffalo, New York. After that he completed graduate work at State University of New York at Buffalo in the department of Native Studies with American Studies. Buffalo State College awarded him an Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts in 2003.

 

In addition, the gallery below showcases several works from the collection that explore similar themes to Jemison’s work.

G. Peter Jemison, Halley's Cardinal Comet, 1986. Mixed media on paper bag, 12 x 6 3/4 x 17 inches (30.48 x 17.15 x 43.18 cm). Collection of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. Museum purchase, 2022.23.1. © G. Peter Jemison.
G. Peter Jemison, Halley's Cardinal Comet, 1986. Mixed media on paper bag, 12 x 6 3/4 x 17 inches (30.48 x 17.15 x 43.18 cm). Collection of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. Museum purchase, 2022.23.1. © G. Peter Jemison.

 

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