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Into the Great Unknown: Illustrations by Paul Goble

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A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Both an exciting and terrifying prospect, people venture out and leave the security and comfort of the people, places and things they know for many reasons. This selection of illustrations by Paul Goble features multiple stories of people setting out on difficult journeys into the unknown, and the leap of faith required to do so. Books featured in this exhibition include: Adopted by Eagles, Beyond the Ridge, Buffalo Woman, Crow Chief, Dream Wolf, Death of the Iron Horse, The Gift of the Sacred Dog, The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses, The Great Race, Her Seven Brothers, Lone Bull’s Horse Raid, The Lost Children, Love Flute, The Return of the Buffaloes and Star Boy.

This exhibit which opened September 28, 2019 was temporarily off-display March 14 - August 16, 2020. It was originally scheduled to close in May 2020 but has been extended to May 9, 2021.

Exhibit Guide

About this exhibit

Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said, “a journey of a thousand miles starts from beneath your feet.” Both an exciting and terrifying prospect, the reasons people venture out and leave the security and comfort of the people, places and things they know are many and varied. Journeys can be inspired by benign things like curiosity or boredom or dire things like escaping danger or hardship. They can be the result of longings for love or family, the protection of self and community or proving oneself in a way that has never been tested. They can come from purposeful action or be compelled by forces that are outside of one’s control. Journeys into the unknown are essential parts of our universal human experience but their results are never certain.

This selection of illustrations by Paul Goble showcases the leap of faith and incredible courage required to undertake such journeys. Books featured in this exhibition include Adopted by the Eagles, Beyond the Ridge, Buffalo Woman, Death of the Iron Horse, Dream Wolf, The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses, The Gift of the Sacred Dog, The Great Race, Her Seven Brothers, Lone Bull’s Horse Raid, The Lost Children, Love Flute, The Return of the Buffaloes and Star Boy.

About Paul Goble

Author and illustrator Paul Goble was born in England on September 27, 1933. He grew up in a family where art and literature were valued and promoted. He also grew up with a deep fascination for the indigenous peoples of North America. As a young man he made several visits to the United States to spend time in reservations in South Dakota and Montana. He moved to the Black Hills of South Dakota permanently in 1977 and became an American citizen in 1984.

Throughout his career, Goble garnered countless awards for his writing and artwork. In 1979 he received the Caldecott Medal, which is one of the most prestigious awards in all of children’s literature. Goble’s Caldecott winner, The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses, is just one of over 40 books in a career extending back to his first title, Red Hawk’s Account of Custer’s Last Battle, published in 1969. Throughout his long career, Goble focused on Plains American Indian history and retellings of traditional American Indian stories.

Goble recognized the issue of an Englishman recording the cultural heritage of American Indians. However, his intentions were clear when he stated, “The myths that I am retelling are not Tolkien-like stories to entertain, but are like Bible stories, parables, which hold real truths at different levels. They are a part of the Native American tradition, part of this land.” Award-winning Lakota author and illustrator S.D. Nelson says, “Paul Goble has a good heart. His paintings and his storytelling honor Lakota ways. Paul Goble, with his artistic insights, has shared our Lakota tradition and spiritual teachings with the world in a positive way. He is a true friend of our people.” Like Nelson, world-renowned Lakota flute player and hoop dancer, Kevin Locke, is an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. In a letter to Goble Locke once wrote, “You’ve done more to heighten an awareness of our culture than just about anyone I can think of.”

Paul Goble passed away on January 5, 2017. Although his artwork is scattered throughout the world in private and public collections, the primary resource for access to works representative of his career is in Brookings, South Dakota, at the South Dakota Art Museum. The museum’s extensive Paul Goble Collection consists of over 500 watercolor, gouache and ink illustrations.


Visitor Comments

Absolutely beautiful!! The color and sharpness of each image is so vivid it breathes life!


The love flute has inspired me!

Love, love, love his work.

From a time forgotten by some, unknown by the rest.

Amazingly beautiful! do you do it?!? It's watercolor!



A surprising (and beautiful) treasure!

I am so glad that the spirit guided me today to this time and space to be inspired, to learn and enjoy the creativity of Paul Goble. Thanks.

Love it.

Fine detail around the plants!

Thanks for your fascination with Native culture. It helped foster my own interest.

The lovely illustrations with lots of detail - tell a story that fascinates me every time I visit!

Absolutely LOVE this collection. I would like to see it expanded! Amazing detail and life energy!

Love the use of blank space. Every painting feels so alive.

"Into the Great Unknown" but what truly is unknown?

Mola un montór, lo recomiendo a todos mis amigos muchas

J'aime cet museum, c'est tre cool. Merci beaucoup.

All this looks pretty cool, thank you!!!


As a children's librarian I loved introducing his books to children.

Beautiful paintings!!

Amazing art



Very unique art style

This part was my favorite

So clean and detailed!

Loved all the culture displayed and shown in this collection

Thank you for including the beautiful text as well. Love the use of white space.

These are beautiful.

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