PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University’s Compton Union Gallery is concluding its academic year exhibition with “Beadattitudes: Pushing It,” an exhibit of beadwork and sculpture by Pauline and Gerald Lilje of Portland, Ore. The exhibit opens Saturday, April 13, for Mom’s Weekend and runs weekdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., through May 10.
The Liljes are retired WSU faculty members. Pauline was the art librarian and Gerald taught philosophy.
The Liljes’ interest in Native American beadwork began after they found animal skulls and bones on their land in Pullman. Two nearby Reservations rekindled Pauline’s interest in her Chippewa heritage and aroused interest in American Indian art. They began collecting and decorating the skulls and bones. The two also learned to sew glass beads on leather, make knives and sheathes, and to make brain-tanned leather.
Their primary medium is glass beads, but their work ranges from traditional sewn Native American beadwork, wall hangings, beaded skulls and driftwood to contemporary carvings and woodworks. Beadwork has a variety of uses and meanings in different cultures and these diverse influences can be seen in their work.
The exhibit features some of the Liljes’ bead paintings. They glue strings of seed beads of various sizes on leather, then frame them. A recurring theme in their work is the physical and spiritual connections between all life forms.
The Liljes have displayed their work in various venues in Washington state. Their last exhibit at WSU was in the spring of 1998.