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The Art: A Native American “Ghost Shirt”

The Story: You could say that I had been looking for this shirt for 18 years.

The first time I visited the Southwestern States was in the 90’s, travelling by car for 2 weeks over 1500 miles, exploring a landscape that couldn’t have felt more alien. Literally. If you’ve never been to Arizona, New Mexico, or Utah, you should make it a point to visit, because you’ll feel like you’ve landed on another planet.

Montezuma's Castle, south of Sedona

Montezuma’s Castle, south of Sedona

The time-carved mesas and canyons feel ancient, elemental, and their million-year-old history makes your own existence feel insignificant. The native peoples who lived here before us understood this and have a respect and reverence for nature that infuses this part of the world with a spirituality that is palpable.

On my first visit, looking through galleries and shops in Santa Fe and Sedona, I searched for that certain something that represented this feeling but I never found it. But when I found myself back in Sedona in 2012, that certain something found me. In our bed and breakfast, in fact.

When I saw this beautiful shirt hanging in our room, I was immediately smitten, and although it was for sale, I still debated buying it. (It wasn’t exactly in the same price bracket as fridge magnets or postcards.) But after literally dreaming about this ghost shirt the night before leaving Sedona, I realized that sometimes there are forces at work that you can’t ignore. So I told the owner of the B&B that they would have to find something else to put on their wall.

It may have taken 18 years for me to put it on my own wall, but this hauntingly beautiful piece of art has found its perfect home – in my heart and soul.

The Fact: Ghost shirts were worn by dancers who believed they were imbued with spiritual powers. The rituals of the ghost dance itself took on many meanings for different tribes, helping to unite tribes from various nations, even ones with a tradition of conflict.

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