Home‎ > ‎


posted Nov 14, 2014, 4:48 PM by Unknown user   [ updated Nov 14, 2014, 4:55 PM ]
 Conversations: Native Arts Today 
Norman G. Jackson, Tlingit

“Native peoples are sentient beings responding to life’s challenges and victories,” says artist and Fairhaven College professor Tanis S’eiltin.  She questions the label '"traditional" as applied to Native American art.  I recall a similar discussion regarding Laguna Pueblo weaving that was once practiced by men, unlike the Navajo weavers of the Southwest.  Now that the art is made primarily by women can the term "traditional be applied?  How do tribal traditions impact the work of the artist and how does the contemporary creative impulse thrive in the midst of that tradition?  Well this is a teaser of the dialogue that will be shared on November 14, when a panel of Native artists and curators will meet at the Whatcom Museum for a panel discussion open to the public.  

"Our art is constantly changing, as are our social, cultural and political environments. Evolution of art styles, traditional and contemporary, are driven by many factors; shifting economies, social media, tourist industry, collectors, curators, scholars and cultural trends.  In addition, art produced in urban settings differs from the art produced in rural communities. And so it is difficult to use the terms ‘traditional’ and ‘contemporary’, or ‘Northwest Coast,’ ‘Alaska Native Art,’ ‘Native Art,’ etc. Just as difficult is the task to define how it has evolved.” the Tlingit printmaker and installation artist says in a conversation with Amy Kepferle of Cascadia Weekly.

Among the panel participants Seattle Art Museum’s Native American art curator Barbara Brotherton, Haida weaver Lisa Telford, Stonington Gallery’s Becky Blanchard, and Theresa Parker, a renowned basket weaver and educational curator for the Makah Cultural and Research Center.  The goal is to increase public understanding of Native artists as individual creative forces: to reach beyond the pigeon hole.  This is essential when artists from the diaspora feel that their art is lumped into one generic group devoid of a theme as S’eiltin recognizes this occurrence as the norm...

“In addition, I would be excited about exhibitions that represent ethnically diverse artists, be that white artists as well as indigenous artists. A specific theme that brings artists from a wide range of places, whose work represents contrasting ideas, would be very informative and provocative. This would also work to challenge a longstanding practice in the art world that tends to ghettoize the Native artist. In converse, I feel there needs to be more support for solo exhibitions throughout the nation.”

This panel discussion coincides with a Native Arts Celebration and Native Arts Market that features demonstrations by participating artists who will be selling their works of art.  With a phenomenal history of turning out monumental creations with some of the boldest motifs in the art world this is a must attend event  I foresee an art Market that grows to be on par with the Indian Market that takes place in Santa Fe annually.  Hopefully there will be room for that idea tonight...

For more information on the event and the work of Native Artists check the following links.