Richard Glazer Danay is a well-regarded multimedia artist who works in paintings, assemblage, and more. He graduated from California State University, Northridge, and holds two M.F.A degrees from California State University, Chico, and the University of California, Davis. Glazer Danay was the Rupert Costo Chair of American Indian Affairs at the University of California, Riverside, and taught at California State University, Long Beach, where he earned the title of professor emeritus. He also served as a commissioner on the Indian Arts and Crafts Board. His art has been featured in many important institutions including the British Museum, the Heard Museum, and the Peabody Essex Museum.
Richard’s art has been inspired by his various occupations, his sense of California, and his Native culture. “I was an iron worker, dishwasher, I worked at the Whisky a Go Go in L.A., I was Dean Martin’s bodyguard," he says. "The sixties weren’t a real big influence, more like the fifties, like Hollywood Boulevard, the garishness and the excess. The neon signs.”
"Rattles are spiritually sacred instruments used by the majority of North American Indians. Rattles are used in religious ceremonies, rituals, feasts, and healing ceremonies as well as social dances and gatherings. Rattles are usually made of natural materials such as animal horns, bark and rawhide sewn together, turtle and tortoise shells, gourds, shell pods, bird's beaks, and animal hooves and bones. These are filled with corn kernels, seeds, small rocks and pebbles, or any material that can make the desired sounds required for the occasion or ceremony.
Mohawk people began making rattles from European-acquired goods at the beginning of the 19th century and this practice carried on into the 20th century. One of the most popular were tin can rattles made from the "Calumet" baking powder cans that were distributed to tribes from government agencies. These cans came "ready made" and replaced many of the natural materials previously used because of convenience and accessibility. They did not, however, replace traditional ancestral rattles, but were used for social dances and activities.
There is a connection between the sound of the rattle, which is invisible, and the spiritual, which is unseen. The sound of a rattle is fashioned from air and vanishes back into air once it is heard. Rattles are used as a form of communications, through prayer and ritual, with the spirits. The rattles that I make are an extension of this tradition intended to reflect the use of 21st century materials in making contemporary rattles from modern sources.