Awesome Contemporary Native Art: Indian Shrek and More

In Bunky Echohawk, Contemporary Native Art, Susan Shown Harjo by Adrienne K.2 Comments

(image source, (c) Bunky Echohawk)

Reader Carleen sent over this image, which comes from an exhibition of contemporary Native art that Susan Shown Harjo curated in DC back in 2007. I know it’s old, but you know how much I like art and images that call into question preconceived notions about Indian identity, clashing with stereotypes and challenging ideas of Natives in the historic past, as fantasy characters, ect. This painting definitely fits the bill, and let’s be honest, it’s pretty fun too.

Lots of other great images from the show can be found at the Washington Post here. The show was entitled “American Icons Through Indigenous Eyes”, and The Post noted that the exhibition was a “rare chance to see modern works by Native Americans that don’t necessarily reflect craft traditions, anthropology or history, but instead a viewpoint and a vision for art.” Exactly what I love about contemporary Indian art. There are even some images that play with cultural appropriation–I especially liked this one by David Bradly, called “Land O Fakes”:

 Have I mentioned my undergrad thesis was on contemporary Indian art? It might be obvious by now. :)

Today’s my first-ish day of class (still “shopping”), so expect posting to return to normal next week!

Colorlines: Must See Political Native American Art
Washington Post: American Icons Through Indigenous Eyes

Masking Tape and Markers=Beautiful Native Street Poetry

“I bead contemporary Native life”: The Art of Teri Greeves

Native-themed Banksy Street Art in San Francisco

(Thanks Carleen!)
  • I’m not sure I particularly understand the NMAI jab in the Bradley piece, as I thought the institution, at least in its current manifestation, was more or less universally well-regarded. Going after the Eiteljorg makes a bit more sense (half of their collection is, like Frederick Remington bronzes and stuff), but I’m wondering if the piece doesn’t reference some controversy I’m just not aware of.

  • I don’t know a ton about the issue, or if there is a specific incident that Bradley piece is referring to. I actually worked at the museum for a summer, and I know there has been some criticism of the museum for glossing over the genocidal history and overall mistreatment of Natives in the US, and that the museum plays into what the public wants/expects to see-lots of feathers, buckskin, and beads, a gift shop on every floor, rather than making it truly a museum for Native people.

    It appears from the image that he is saying the museum values money over culture, pageantry over artistry, etc. The symbolism is a little hard to ignore, I mean, there are even apples in the corners (you know, red on the outside, white on the inside…).

    It’s pretty fascinating when you really start to look at it! I originally just grabbed it cause of the cultural appropriation aspect of Land o Lakes…