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friday :: june 30, 2006
forms of exchange: art of native peoples

From the time that European explorers and settlers first set foot in North America, they began to acquire works produced by Native hands. Pueblo-made pots served the needs of the Spanish in the Southwest; wampum belts recorded treaties between Whites and the Iroquois in the Northeast; Inuit sculptures were collected by explorers, whalers, and missionaries in the Canadian Arctic. Native peoples responded to the challenge of foreign occupation in complex ways that are charted in the history of their artifacts. European glass beads replaced those made of bone, shell, and stone; imported calico fabrics and American flags stimulated design innovations in various media; the Inuit adopted printmaking, an art form entirely new to them.

The creative ability of Native peoples to transform new ideas and materials is embodied in the Southwestern pottery, Inuit sculptures and images, and Iroquois beadwork and baskets of the new exhibit, Forms of Exchange: Art of Native Peoples. Forms of Exchange includes forty-seven works by historic and contemporary Native artists, dating from 1100 C.E. to the present.

"A century ago, scholars and collectors were convinced that Native culture was destined to pass away in the face of civilization's progress," said guest curator Karen Lucic. "On the contrary, the works in Forms of Exchange, demonstrate the enduring vitality of Native art, and that it continues to evolve into the twenty-first century."

Linguists often note that Native languages actually have no word for 'art,' yet aesthetic decisions inform every aspect of the works in this exhibition. In their original context, Native artifacts were inseparable from use – not meant for a museum or another static setting. Moreover, both sacred and non-ceremonial objects reflected a spiritual dimension, and this endures in Native societies.

Many contemporary makers describe their creative process as more important than the final product. The goal of all life – including creative endeavor – is to "walk in beauty," as the Navajo say. By the late-nineteenth century, however, most Native peoples were thoroughly entwined in mainstream settler culture, buying mass-produced goods rather than making their own.

Concurrently, they increased their production of objects for sale to others. As the market for Native crafts expanded, a new category of "fine art" developed, instigated largely by Native women's efforts. >from *The Resiliency of Indigenous Art Examined in Forms of Exchange: Art of Native Peoples*. from the Edward J. Guarino Collection, April 28-September 3, 2006, at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center (Poughkeepsie, NY).

related context
musée du quai branly. 'un musée du regard sur l’autre. dédié aux arts et civilisations d’afrique, d’asie, d’océanie et des amériques.'
>walking as knowing as making. april 15, 2005
>message from the artic indigenous peoples. december 21, 2004
> yanomami, spirit of the forest. october 22, 2003

equal x-change walk

sonic flow
no word for art [stream]
no word for art [download]

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