Phoenix's Heard Museum recently announced the promised gift from Charles and Valerie Diker of 23 works of contemporary Indigenous art — a selection of beaded soft sculpture figural dolls collected over the past 25 years. These examples reflect the achievements of five master artists, including Rhonda Holy Bear, Joyce Growing Thunder, Juanita Growing Thunder Fogarty, Jessa Rae Growing Thunder and Jamie Okuma.
“It is a singular collection in the world of contemporary Native art, impossible to replicate,” says David M. Roche, Director and CEO, in making the announcement. “The dolls reflect customary cultural practices including painting on hide, and sewing with porcupine quills and glass beads, but at such a transcendent level that they are truly world-class works of art. This gift will immeasurably strengthen and enhance the Heard’s collection, and we are deeply grateful to Chuck and Valerie Diker for their generosity.”
“When we first discovered these sculptural figures, each with tiny, authentic examples of all the objects of Plains traditions, it was revelatory to Val and me,” Mr. Diker notes. “We could now appreciate the totality of Native American creative expression on an entirely different level. The sculptures represent the broad aesthetic of a glorious American Plains people. Because our figures are contemporary, they speak to us of today and tomorrow, while at the same time they preserve a dynamic living history. We wish to thank the leadership of the Heard Museum for enabling us to share these works of art with future generations.”
Exhibition of the Gift of the Diker Collection to the Heard Museum
The collection is currently on display at the Heard Museum in the Sandra Day O’Connor Gallery in the exhibition Grand Procession: Contemporary Plains Indian Dolls from the Collection of Charles and Valerie Diker. In 2010, the collection was the subject of an exhibition and publication produced by the Denver Art Museum. Several of the works from the Diker Collection were generously loaned to other museums in the United States, including the Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois, and the Montclair Art Museum in Montclair, New Jersey.
The gift will be memorialized by a new scholarly publication written by the Heard Museum’s Chief Curator, Diana Pardue and others. Education programs will be organized in conjunction with the exhibition and the subsequent and ongoing display of works from the collection.
The exhibition is also featured on the Heard’s website at as well as on the Museum’s social media channels.