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Native American Art In The Contemporary World


Native American are was not widely known in the contemporary world until the last couple of decades. Since, there has been a strong shift in effort to include and display Native American Art within present galleries and museum exhibits, especially within exotic, ethnological, and art history centered institutions. Dedications are currently being made to Indian materials and works of the American West. Perhaps the most active interest being taken in Native American art resides within the United States.

Interest in Native American Art forms first took place in the 1920s as a young group of Euro-American Artists in the Santa Fe area became enthralled in the discovery of works from the Southwest Indian tribes. This colony of artists referred to as the Taos were extremely influential in successfully bringing public awareness to the value of Native American Art. Their efforts came in many forms including educational exhibitions and publications. In Santa Fe, the group was even able to establish a School of Indian Art. Through this school several Native American Artists became widely recognized, such as Andy Tsinajinnie, Qawa Pi, Awa Tsireh, Geronima Cruz Montoya, and Eva Mirabal among many others. Unfortunately, after a prosperous period, the school went under due to the Great Depression.

See article Native American Designers

Works of Native American Artists

Works of Native American Artists (left to right): "Buffalo Hunt One" from Andy Tsinajinnie, "Shalako and Mudheads" from Awa Tsireh and "War Dance" from Geronima Cruz Montoya

An additional outpouring of interest rose as the enactment of the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 came to be. This act allowed the creation and solidification of the Indian Arts and Crafts Board. John Collier was the first commissioner of Indian affairs whom was specifically set out to encourage, revive, and promote native arts and crafts. It is one of the only government organizations to do so. The board was largely made up of members knowledgeable and sensitive to the cultural strength of the Native Americans. What began as an economic mechanism to increase Native American income slowly turned into an explorative program featuring native crafts whom still hosts active Indian crafters well versed in traditional techniques. The program continues today to serve as a renaissance for Native American Artists. This organization is actively placing young, talented indian natives within the Institute of American Indian Arts presently.

Since the development of these organizations a spike in collectors and art museums interested in native art have come into the public eye. This was a huge advancement as Native American Art was once an overlooked form of art. Public attention to Native American Indian cultural expression has also affected many North American Indians causing a surge in curiosity of what their past may hold and still preserve. However, the utmost positive result of the Native American Art appearance in present society may be the acceptance towards Indian economic development boards and tribal councils. Tribal councils now feel welcomed and encouraged to support one another in the art of their region which has brought forth much cultural value and awareness of several tribes, but particularly within the Hopi, Crow, Navajo, and Cherokee. They have all developed funds, sales centres, crafting hours, and museums to pay homage to their traditional heritage of arts strengthening their tribal bond. Craft schools have additionally been acquired to teach new generations the cultural of the land.

See article Native American Artistry

Native American painting has also taken a shift into a new and positive direction. Native American Artists have begun publically producing works again of master quality in mediums such as tempera, acrylic, and oil. Many have gone on to gain worldwide recognition in the category of fine art and have established remarkably successful careers. Some of these works reflect the traditional 'Native American Style' while others have taken on a free form preferring to paint according to their own interests and identities.

a New Direction of Native American Artists

A New Direction of Native American Artists

The Western Hemisphere has slowly begun to incorporate organizations in the like of those established within the United States in order to continue to promote cultural art movements. Rising Nationalism is a large factor that contributes to the support of movements within countries where pride in your cultural background is at the forefront. Latin America has made a large effort in creating cultural awareness through the building of the 1964 National Museum of Archeology in Mexico. This breathtaking structure stands as a memorial monument to the country's vast and rich heritage. Peru, Guatemala, and Colombia (among others) have also followed suit in developing attention to their native cultures architecturally.


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