Native American Art for Far-flung Territories
Judith Ostrowitz selects several critical cases to demonstrate this strategic tacking between macro- and micro-identities. The long-term implications of the totem pole restoration projects of the second half of the twentieth century; the opening of the National Museum of the American Indian; the dance event in Juneau known as Celebration; the impact of modernism and postmodernism on Indian art; and the use of electronic media to establish Indian territory on the Internet all demonstrate facets of the purposeful and context-driven strategies of self-representation designed by Native communities.
The NMAI may be the paramount example of the construction of public identity originating from Indian Country to date. Ostrowitz describes how, in the course of the museum's creation, the distinctions among many specific groups of origin were selectively blurred in service of larger goals. In contrast, the purpose of the gathering of Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian people at the biennial Celebration is to rejoice in distinct Native groups and in the vitality of their traditions. Postmodernism has afforded twentieth- and twenty-first century Native artists the opportunity to penetrate mainstream art worlds, where experimentation is encouraged and the former criteria for the production of "Native art" are selectively referenced.
Through close readings of Native cultural productions, Ostrowitz puts Native art practices into conversation with larger issues in cultural studies. Art audiences are becoming familiar with many works that address global communities but are generated in environments affected by specific ethnic, gendered, and cultural perspectives. As the work of non-Native artists in world-system venues is now also interpreted in the context of the biographical and cultural histories of their makers, all works of art may be better appreciated as expressions of local artistic position.
About the Author
"Interventions merits our attention not only as a work on Native American art but also for its contribution to the broader question of how cultural actors assert themselves on a world stage without sacrificing their commitment to community values."—Elizabeth Hutchinson, Museum Anthropology Review, Spring-Fall 2011
"In this timely, important book, Ostrowitz presents the ways Native American artists stay true to specific cultural territories while at the same time moving beyond them to engage with the world community..A particular strength of this book is its versatility-one many consider it in its entirety, or use select chapters as insightful, current readings for courses in art history, museum studies, and visual anthropology. Recommended."—Choice
"Interventions is an admirable effort to reframe in theoretically sophisticated, relational, and global—rather than essentialist—terms the ongoing effort by native artists to claim and maintain sovereignty."—caa.reviews
"This is a first—rate contribution to Native American art history, and to transdisciplinary conversations about diverse modern and post—modern realms. It brings many intellectual worlds together."—Janet Catherine Berlo, University of Rochester
"An invaluable and timely contribution to the increasingly complex debates around Northwest Coast Native art."—Charlotte Townsend—Gault, University of British Columbia
Other Titles by Judith Ostrowitz
Other Titles in ART / Native American
Other Titles in Ethnic minorities & multicultural studies