Made for Trade

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Made for Trade


Evelyn Hatcher is unrivaled among anthropologists in her broad knowledge of and interpretive insights into tribal/folk/primitive art. Her textbook, Art as Culture (1985, 1999), provides a detailed "Ethnographic Index" to the well-known anthropologically studied arts of Africa, Asia, North and South America, and the Pacific. Black and white drawings, provided by her husband Jack Hatcher, identify objects in the index by tribe or ethnic group and location. Hatcher did not use colored photographs because she wanted to keep her text affordable for students. I have taught the anthropology of art in various places since 1959, and her book, which students like very much, has greatly enhanced this course. It is not just a book for new students, however. Hatcher provides original interpretations of the arts from many points of view, in terms of geography, technology, psychology, history, social functions, and new global contexts. While she was herself reluctant to call her presentation "theory," I have no such hesitation: this book gives us a solid document in support of the holistic understanding of the arts on which Hatcher insists. She has regularly taken the position that conceptual categories should not be taken too seriously, but are useful in considering any subject.

In this book, Evelyn Hatcher reviews and rejects common myths about the pristine nature of "traditional" arts and looks unfettered by common snobberies at "tourist" art: art Made for Trade. She found ways to use theories without making the ideological commitments that fuel much academic debate. She loved to debate the issues, always with endless good will. Her work shows the attention to detail and to objects, which she learned from her parents, who were both painters; but she also has the broad perspective and ability to generalize that she shared with her husband, Jack, who was an engineer. As she often said, she was "born to art and married science," and she had a great deal more sophistication in both arenas than do most of the rest of us in anthropology.

Born January 12, 1914, in Chicago, Evelyn Hatcher was educated at Fieldston Ethnical Culture High School in New York; UCLA (B.A. Psychology, 1942); The University of Chicago (MA Anthropology, 1954) and was a "non-traditional student" when she received her PhD in 1967 in Anthropology at the University of Minnesota under the guidance of E. Adamson Hoebel. We became colleagues and friends when I taught at the University of Minnesota in the Anthropology Department during the spring term of 1968.

As a child, Evelyn travelled across the United States and throughout Europe on painting trips with her parents, Edgar Alwin Payne and Elsie Palmer Payne. When they lived in the Southwest, she participated in traditional Navajo Ceremonials, which laid the foundation for her Ph.D dissertation and later book, Visual Metaphors (1974; 1989). In this book Evelyn introduced the concept of "metaphor" in a central position a decade or two before it became important in anthropological discourse. She loved her career as a teacher and retired as a Professor Emeritus from St. Cloud University (1968-79) in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Thereafter she continued to work on professional presentations for Central States Anthropological Society, American Anthropological Association, and the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences. She also worked, as she said, as "the daughter of the artist," preparing paintings and catalogs for the exhibition of her parents' paintings (Stern and Hatcher 1990; Hatcher et al 2002; Payne 1941; Coen 1988; Goldfield Galleries 1987). Evelyn had virtually completed Made for Trade when she passed it on to her friend and colleague photographer Petronella Ytsma and to me for final preparation. Work on it was nearly done and had all been discussed with Evelyn Hatcher when she died peacefully after a short decline in Minneapolis, Minnesota on February 16, 2009 at the age of 96. Evelyn Payne Hatcher donated her collection of ethnic arts, most of which are pictured in this book, and her books and manuscripts to the Lowell D. Holmes Museum of Anthropology at Wichita State University, where I have taught since 1968. I am pleased and proud to have been able to help make her work available to the next generation.

Dorothy K. Billings
Wichita State University, March 2009

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