Image courtesy of the Artist. There are federally recognized Native American nations in the United States. Amongst those tribes exists a great deal of diversity in culture, language, and elements of day-to-day life such as food preparation and dress. This is what makes the Jimmie Durham controversy so complicated.
In case you missed it: Durham has long been regarded as the central, or at least the most well-known figure of Native American Art. He has historically identified with Cherokee descent along with a bizarre slew of celebrities including Johnny Depp, Cher, Miley Cyrus, and Johnny Cash , and this identity is a central aspect of his work. His fabrications insult not only us but also the other tribes whose cultures Durham has misappropriated.
But it also sounds a whole lot like that time "Iron Eyes Cody," the actor in the infamous s "Crying Indian: It's about time that Native American artists start getting recognition and support for their work, apart from the media representations by non-Native folks. Meet these eight groundbreaking artists of Native American descent, working in a variety of mediums, who are making moves to counter the stereotypes of Native American art and culture in contemporary society.
Gallanin has a way of making artworks that mix completely contemporary-looking aesthetics with historical or traditional elements of his culture. For example, a series of prints use images of Native Americans overlaid with text, rendered in the style of Pop Art, with bright colors and Warhol-eque graphics.
In another video, he paired traditional Tlingit dance with sparse electronic music. Gallanin often repurposes objects like handcuffs used to remove Indigenous children from their homes, and makes clear society's tendency to bury historical truths. Red Star's photography practice is her way of navigating her experience growing up on a Crow Indian Reservation, juxtaposed with her experience of mainstream contemporary society.
Using materials like Target-brand Halloween costumes and inflatable animals, Red Star counters the stereotypical trope that all Native American people are "one with nature. The photographs are grouped by category, and feature broken down cars, churches, and decrepit living structures covered in blankets that stand in opposition to the stereotyped romantic perception of Native American life.
The group hopes to incite a constructive conversation about social, political, and economic forces that are destroying communities globally. His photo-realist paintings on glass and linen have a dream-like, spiritual quality, using subtle shadows, light studies, and layering. His series Disagreeable Coyotes consists of nine acrylic-on-panel minimal paintings of coyote heads, layered in bright reds, blues, and yellows, reminiscent of a full color 3D film watched without the glasses.
I once believed that the weight of such expectations functioned as a cultural given for the artist of Native American descent. Its rules stated that we cry for a vision and place ourselves in a single grand narrative of history and representation It echoed through the lecture halls of histories and it was so powerful and it was so distracting that I forgot my place in linear time and now I work from an untraceable present.
She works in sculpture, painting, and video, but has a special affinity for performance art, for the way it allows her to embody the past, present, and future all at once. Her work speaks to the relationship between Native American history and "American" history. She comments on the boundaries that humans create borders, fences, state lines , as juxtaposed with the natural boundaries of nature airflow, waterflow.
In her performance Clouds Live Where, viewers watch from above as Johnson delineates space using tape, wood barricades, and fabric. The artist attempts to navigate this barricaded space, transporting water back and forth from clouds to land. She is interested in the ways that indigenous and non-indigenous people's interpretations of her work differ, specifically with regards to the treatment of land and nature: Without judgement, she says, humans can feel that all things are ultimately intertwined.
She writes that her grandmother expressed herself through beadwork, and despite working menial jobs as a dishwasher and a cleaner, she was always primarily an artist. Greeves has been working with beads since she was 8 years old, and for her, being an artist is about giving a voice to her ancestors before her. She writes, "I am compelled to do it I have no choice in the matter.
I must express myself and my experience as a 21st Century Kiowa and I do it, like all those unknown artists before me, through beadwork It is the voice of my grandmothers. She blends traditional geometric traditional Kiowa styles with figurative elements of the Shoshone, while also commenting on the derivation of American modernist abstraction from traditional Native American designs. Her figures are adorned with both traditional and contemporary clothing items, as a commentary on being a Native American woman in the modern world.
Matika Wilbur Photograph from Project She has been traveling across the country for over 5 years, taking portrait photographs of Indian Tribes across the country to reclaim the Native American image, and to effectually change the way that Native Americans are represented. Her subjects choose where they want to be photographed, and Martika spends up to multiple days with them, bringing gifts and sharing songs and prayers. She seeks to bring the individual to life in her works, placing her photos side by side with text from the subject.
She writes "while holding true to my heritage and tradition, I aim to empower contemporary visions. I believe that my work is the answered prayers of my ancestors, as I walk the path they fought to pave. He takes imagery from pop culture, politics, films, television shows, etc.