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In Memoriam: Pat Courtney Gold (1939-2022)

by | Dec 1, 2022

Very recently, we received news that 2009 Eric and Barbara Dobkin Native Artist Fellow Pat Courtney Gold passed away on July 11, 2022.

Pat, a Wasco basketmaker, grew up on the Warm Springs Reservation in the mid-Columbia River area of central Oregon. In her youth, she was taken to a Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school. She eventually went on to earn a B.S. in mathematics and physics from Whitman College, and became a professional mathematician and computer specialist. She always remembered, however, childhood visits with her mother to museums displaying traditional Wasco artwork. In 1991, Pat studied and helped revive the making of Wasco “sally bags,” twined root-digging bags that utilize a full-turn twining unique to her community. This launched her on a new career path dedicated to the preservation of her cultural heritage.

Pat Courtney Gold in 2009. Photo by Jason S. Ordaz.
When she came to SAR in 2009, Pat utilized the Indian Arts Research Center collections to research and gain inspiration for the creation of her two-dimensional wall hangings. One of these weavings is proudly displayed in the IARC vaults. I am sure many of you have seen Pat’s work during your tours and visits to the collection.
Pat Courtney Gold. Tule ‘Star’ Woven Hanging, 2009. Mixed media. SAR. 2009-5-1. Photo by Addison Doty. Collection School for Advanced Research.

At the time Pat was in residence at SAR, I was the IARC’s program coordinator and my role was to support her fellowship in whatever way she needed. She was always interested in learning new techniques and meeting new people. I remember one time, she and I were transfixed as we spent an afternoon learning about the process of weaving turkey feather blankets from Eric Blinman.  She was much better at it than me! A few months later, I would end up trading a pair of pottery candlesticks and a big bag of turkey down feathers (our family raises them), for one of her small works.

Photo by Jason S. Ordaz

In going through our files, I found this video that was shot of Pat while she was in Santa Fe by Penny Phillips.  It’s over a decade old, but it truly feels like it was just yesterday. It is a good representation of who Pat was and reveals her generosity, curiosity, and strength. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do.

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