Native Art in History Today

Many thanks to Rhys Griffiths and History Today for its article on “Native America’s Post-war History in Ten Works of Art.” I feel privileged that four of my suggestions were included in the list of ten.

Rhys contacted me in February about his upcoming feature which would be a “primer of 20th century Native American history, as seen through its cultural artefacts…[through] a chronological list of 10 works of art (paintings, records, books, films, etc.).” I submitted four artworks that I consider to be seminal works on multiple levels (subject matter, style, medium, public response, etc.). I guess he agreed with all of my suggestions! History Today is a monthly magazine based in London whose aim is “to bring serious history to a wide audience.”

I hope people in England and elsewhere learn more about Native expressive arts.



Essay in the Oxford Handbook

I am honored to have contributed an essay to The Oxford Handbook of American Indian History edited by Frederick E. Hoxie. I wrote the chapter (#23) on “Native American Expressive Arts,” and Oxford University Press released the handbook this month (April 2016). I appreciated the opportunity to provide an overview of Native American art history and to be included with such wonderful scholars.

Opening with the life and art of Dakota artist Oscar Howe, the chapter discusses the
“Indianness” of Native art and the frustrations experienced by Native artists over the
years surrounding their creative expressions. The chapter is arranged chronologically,
opening in the late nineteenth century and highlighting sample exhibitions, artworks, and
artists from the United States in order to illustrate broad conceptual issues. These
include Indian authenticity and identity, differences between fine art and “crafts,”
traditional versus contemporary art forms, the role of the arts in economic development,
and the impact of federal power on the arts. The chapter draws examples from painting,
sculpture, photography, video, and performance art. It concludes with a proposal for
understanding Native art inspired by the words of Santa Clara artist Rose Simpson.