Most documented Indigenous American art are objects that were either: made for trade/market, collected with little information about the cultural environment and context, or examined as decorative works. The existing Western discipline of art history and an inherently Western aesthetic perspective have guided scholarship on these materials. While the current dialogue about Indigenous American art is welcome in contrast to the vacuum that existed prior to the explosion since the 1980s, there is an aspect of the arts that continues to be omitted. Kay Walkingstick describes this void within the discourse as it affects contemporary Native artists, “Critics often avoid writing seriously about Native American art because what they consider ‘universal art values’ are actually twentieth-century Eurocentric art values.” This investigation will attempt to examine what would define an Indigenous aesthetic and whether through that perspective a new appreciation can be gained for Indigenous art. Through this aesthetic it is proposed that the role of Indigenous art objects will be broadened to include how they are: 1) used to express individual artist and Native viewer identity within a complex socio-cultural community; 2) affirmed to serve as didactic materials and mnemonic references to traditional cultural cosmology and values; and 3) instrumental in intergenerational transmission of cultural knowledge. Resulting from this will be the potential for scholars to address the artistic expressions of the Indigenous aesthetic in a dialogue that can include a richer understanding of these Indigenous American artworks.
|Keywords:||American, Indigenous, Tribal, Framework, Methodology, Aesthetic|
Adjunct Instructor, School of Art and Art History, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma, USA
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