Department of the Interior

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Office of the Secretary
March 28, 2006
Contact: Anne J. Harman
Silent Voices:Rock Art of the Fremont Culture
From "Silent Voices: Rock Art of the Fremont Culture"
courtesy of the BLM - Anasazi Heritage Center

Rock Art on Exhibit at Interior Museum

Rock art created by pre-Columbian indigenous peoples from 1500 B.C. to 1350 A.D. is featured in three exhibits that opened March 27, 2006, at the U.S. Department of the Interior Museum.

Using photographic images and text, the exhibits capture the rich symbolism and spare design of both carved and painted rock art in the Great Basin, located in present-day Nevada, Utah, and Colorado. The exhibits celebrate the rare archaeological treasures on public lands protected under the Antiquities Act, a legislative triumph for Theodore Roosevelt's administration 100 years ago.

Color photographs in the exhibit "Silent Voices: Rock Art of the Fremont Culture," document the mysterious petroglyphs and rock paintings created centuries ago by the American Indian groups living in the Great Basin. Sharon and James Sneddon's photographs present some of the most spectacular rock art in the American Southwest, depicting elaborately dressed shamans, hunters and animals.

The images provide glimpses into the life ways of people of the Fremont Culture, and prompt curiosity about the people's hunting customs and spiritual beliefs. Like a well-written detective novel, each photograph contains dozens of clues about the symbols' original meaning for the hunting and gathering tribes of this area.

"Silent Voices" is on loan to the Interior Museum from the Bureau of Land Management's Anasazi Heritage Center in Colorado as is "The Rock Art of Grand Gulch" photography exhibit spotlighting art found in canyons north of the San Juan River and created by Ancestral Puebloans up to 2,000 years ago. The rakes, zigzags, circle and plant designs, they painted using a handful of colors. This art from Grand Gulch defines what today is known as the Abstract Style.

The intriguing symbols found in remote, arid canyons in the Southwest featured in "Barrier Canyon Style Art Photographed by Doak Heyser" provide visitors with an antidote to harried urban life. Heyser's masterful photographs capture the transcendent beauty of the art, such as the figures of orange, red, and white in "The Perfect Panel," so-named for its pristine condition,

Many examples of Southwestern rock art are found on land managed by the Department of the Interior, steward of vast public land holdings. The Interior Museum is dedicated to educating the public and Department of Interior employees about the current mission and programs, and the history of the agency.