NDN Art, (2008)
What is art? More pointedly for my purpose, what is Indian art?
Roy Lichtenstein addressed a similar question in 1962, perhaps fed up with the stodginess of the American art scene up until that time. So here I sit, nearly 50 years later and culturally (supposedly) miles apart, fed up with the brittle stodginess of the American “Indian” art scene asking myself the same question. And here it is: My Little Chief Stereo Type. I have asked him to answer it for me.
Whether you’re in Japan or Kenya or Afghanistan, draw a simple image of an Indian in a War Bonnet and you’ve got instant recognition of America and Indian-ness. This stereotypical imagery has enormous power: to attract, to objectify, to connect, to degrade. And so I chose it as the skeleton of this piece so that I could do to it what Indians (or is that NDN’s?) have been doing for centuries: subvert it and make it mine.
The image started as a pencil drawing of my youngest son, Nimkees Ankwaad. He is speaking the word “ART” appropriated from the Roy Lichtenstein painting, “Art, (1962)”. (Lichtenstein’s graphic methods are appealing to me not just for his style but also for his place in contemporary art history.) I then put the pencil drawing into my computer and filtered it through the microchips of my Pentium 4 hard-drive for color and line.
This image is mounted in a decidedly non-utilitarian 2-D format with no purpose what-so-ever. It is crafted using traditional brain-tanned buckskin and traditional beading methods.
Of course, traditional is relative, we’ve only had beads for the last 500 years or so…
Materials: size 13 cut beads, brain-tanned deer hide, glass beads, cotton cloth
Dimensions: l-13.5”, h-10.75”