October 1, 1999
28 illus.
10.00 Inches (US)
7.00 Inches (US)
1.61 Pounds (US)
$45.00 USD, £32.00 GBP
v2.1 Reference

Privileging the Past

Reconstructing History in Northwest Coast Art

What makes Northwest Coast Native American art authentic? And why, when most of art history is a history of the avant-garde, is tradition so deeply valued by contemporary Native American artists and their patrons? In Privileging the Past, Judith Ostrowitz approaches these questions through a careful consideration of replicas, reproductions, and creative translations of past forms of Northwest Coast dances, ceremonies, masks, painted screens, and houses.

Ostrowitz examines several different art forms—two very different architectural constructions, a dance performance, and modern sculptures and dance paraphernalia—considering their relations to arts of the past. Chief Shakes’ Community House has endured, in various forms, at the same site in Wrangell, Alaska, for close to 170 years as an “old style” Tlingit tribal house. The Grand Hall of the Canadian Museum of Civilization at Hull, Quebec, is constructed as a Native village with an assemblage of replicated houses made by contemporary Native artists, both old and new totem poles, and references to the Northwest Coast landscape. The opening ceremonies of the exhibition Chiefly Feasts: The Enduring Kwakiutl Potlatch at the American Museum of Natural History in New York in October 1991 included a dance program by a group of Native performers from Vancouver Island, B.C., adapting traditional elements for a long and complex theatrical presentation. Finally, artists such as Art Thompson, Beau Dick, Doug Cranmer, Robert Davidson, Susan Point, and Jim Schoppert produce vital and lively art—masks, rattles, prints, and paintings are considered here—that utilizes inherited subject matter and conventionalized stylistic devices. Ostrowitz finds that these replicas and performances function as do most other works of art, referencing history in a highly selective manner.

Ostrowitz draws on an extensive body of interviews she conducted with tribal leaders, artists, and artisans long known and highly respected in both Native and non-Native venues. Throughout the book, we hear their voices—members of the Alfred, Cranmer, Hunt, Tallio, and Webster families, and many other individuals—as they relate their responses to the modern adaptation of their cultural heritage.

Privileging the Past explores intellectual issues raised by postmodern theory, supported by detailed studies of projects that will interest a broad audience of students, historians, museum-goers, and those intrigued by Native American art and cultural history.

9780295978147 : privileging-the-past-ostrowitz-graburn
$45.00 USD

Other Titles by Judith Ostrowitz


Judith Ostrowitz
Mar 2009 - University of Washington Press
$45.00 USD - Hardback

Other Titles in SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / American / Native American Studies

Tengautuli Atkuk / The Flying Parka

Ann Fienup-Riordan, Alice Rearden, Marie Meade
Jan 2024 - University of Washington Press
$105.00 USD - Hardback
$45.00 USD - Paperback / softback

Comics and Conquest

Rhiannon Koehler
Nov 2023 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$59.95 USD - Hardback

Skidegate House Models

Robin K. Wright, foreword by Nika Collison
Jun 2023 - University of Washington Press
$49.95 USD - Hardback

Other Titles in Ethnic minorities & multicultural studies

At the Crossroads of Music and Social Justice

edited by Brenda M. Romero, Susan M. Asai, David A. McDonald, Andrew G. Snyder, Katelyn E. Best, with contributions by Kyra D. Gaunt, Steven Loza, Charlotte W. Heth, Paul Austerlitz, Katie J. Graber, Darci Sprengel, Ho Chak Law, Alexand...
Feb 2023 - Indiana University Press
$90.00 USD - Hardback
$36.00 USD - Paperback / softback

Picture Bride

Yoshiko Uchida, foreword by Elena Tajima Creef
Sep 2022 - University of Washington Press
$19.95 USD - Paperback / softback

Signs of Home

Barbara Johns, foreword by Stephen H. Sumida
Aug 2021 - University of Washington Press
$34.95 USD - Paperback / softback
$49.95 USD - Hardback