Why would oppressed peoples adopt the preeminent symbol of their oppressors and employ it as a design element in their decorative arts? I used to be one of those people who hated seeing the American flag at powwows on reservations. Then I read a scholarly report about the American flag imagery throughout Native art and cultures for the Plains tribes. It helped me understand the meaning from Native peoples perspective throughout history.
WHAT ROLE DOES ART PLAY IN SOCIETY?
On an individual level, art is the way the artist is confronting the problems they see. They are asking questions, they are seeking a new way of thinking. As I mentioned before, there was no word for Art in the Dakota language, what people created then was like creating a prayer through their designs…
There are several words people associate with regional Native artist Marlena Myles’ digital illustrations. Freeborn County Arts Initiative President Elisha Andrew Marin calls them “incredibly painstaking.” Curator and artist Susanne Crane calls them “techy,” “current and of the essence.”
While at a casino, I once over heard a little girl asking her Caucasian father, “do Native Americans have kids?” The father laughed at the question, but to this little girl, the stereotypes of Native Americans in society are probably all she has ever witnessed, so it really seemed plausible Native Americans exist in a separate reality; one where we are stagnant entities, sad and lost to history. However, this exhibition challenges that tired stereotypical perspective of Native Americans by profiling Indigenous artists, performers and activists with the photography of John Ratzloff, who is a non-Native American.
Native Art, Native Voices: A Resource for K-12 Learners
12 essays I wrote for the Minneapolis Institute of Art about artworks in Mia’s collection and questions to support deep looking, critical thinking, and discussion. Native Art, Native Voices includes information about Native cultures both past and present and supports Minnesota state standards for visual arts and social studies/U.S. history.