ICONOCLASTS: Native American Art of a Non-Native Nature
“As an artist, your greatest enemy is your own history.” Brian Eno
For so long, the images, iconography, and cultural information of Native American Art that goes out to the world has been the providence of the Art Experts, Art Collectors, and Buyers. The authority over Native arts, however contemporary, has been given endorsement by how much an art piece sells for, practically buying the voice of Native peoples away from the artists for decades.
In the “Pay for Play” doxa of the New Reservation System called the Native Arts Markets, whoever is able to sell the most marketable Native Art is considered the “best” Native American Artist. Yet, to make an art piece marketable enough to sell, an artist typically creates a piece with many clichéd, historical, hackneyed, and stereotypical imagery as possible. Even when touting the “deconstruction” of such stereotypes, they are still selling out such cultural touchstones to the highest bidder, they are still putting out those images out there to an audience that probably cares for nothing other than owning the piece, and having the authority over its message, imagery, and voice.
As the great man said: It’s not about money, it’s about sending a message.
The challenge then becomes, how do you honestly express yourself as a Native Artist without using the “classical” imagery associated with Native American cultures, without using the clichéd, historical, hackneyed, and stereotypical imagery? That is what this display attempts to do. Then, by not using cultural touchstones to “deconstruct” the stereotype, we as “non-labeled” artists actually deconstruct the very nature of “Native American Art” itself.
For more information on how to bring “ICONOCLASTS: Native American Art of a Non-Native Nature” to your gallery, space, or program, contact Ernest M Whiteman III at: email@example.com or through the CONTACT US page here.