Is it Diversity or Economics? - Finding New Artists on the Web
American Indian Artists
Contemporary American Indian artists, on the other hand, have had little access to the modern gallery until very recently. Sales of American Indian art in galleries outside the southwest have usually been fueled by arts and crafts interests (Pueblo Arts). Until the 1990's, museum exhibitions cast the American Indian more often as subject than as artist. Contemporary artists were too often grouped together in an ethnocentric arts culture that viewed all Indians as artifacts. A controversy over identity among American Indian artists also emerged. Who is an American Indian artist? Artists who considered themselves American Indians but were not registered in tribal records found themselves barred from group exhibitions in museums by the American Indian Arts and Crafts Act passed in 1990. Contemporary Indian artists often found it too hard to break out of the stereotype, so they opted out. The celebration of the Columbian Quincentenary in 1992 became a focal point around which American Indian artists rallied to protest. Artists began to exhibit together in shows like Reservation X (Canada) and the Native American Fine Art Invitational (Arizona). Smaller galleries and galleries in the West began to represent contemporary Indian artists in group exhibitions (Flagrant Exhibitionism). The Web also created a new exhibition space for many urban American Indian artists.
Bibliographical resources on contemporary American Indian artists are limited. Only a few biographical dictionaries on Indian artists have appeared in print: The St. James Guide to Native North American Artists (New York: St. James Press, 1998) includes extensive biographies of prominent modern Native American artists along with lists of exhibitions and publications. First Nations Artists in Canada: A Biographical/Bibliographical Guide, 1960-1999 = Artistes des premières nations au Canada: une guide biographique/bibliographique, 1960 à 1999 (Montreal : The Gail and Stephen A. Jarislowsky Institute for Studies in Canadian Art, 2001) is a recent publication on contemporary Canadian artists.
A search in the traditional databases for contemporary American Indian or Native American artists results in a far smaller number of citations than for other groups. When researching contemporary American Indian artists, ArtBibliographies Modern (120), which includes gallery publications, is the most productive database. In indexes like Art Index (185) and BHA-Bibliography of the History of Art (66), the traditional resources for academic scholarship, the number of citations are fewer than those for other prominent minorities. The Bibliography of Native North Americans (89), on the other hand, is a database that contains citations to the literature on native peoples. It covers contemporary artists and indexes books, reviews, and articles.
What does the Internet offer an under-represented group to offset the lack of traditional academic resources? It offers the best opportunity for these contemporary artists to find a voice for their work. It offers equal access to the public with Museum-mediated sites. In this capacity, the Internet has become successful for the individual Indian artist, as well as for the museums dedicated to Indian art. The National Museum of the American Indian has a fine website showcasing its continuing exhibitions including a recent one of contemporary Indian artists. Increasing numbers of Native Web sites have appeared that collect works of American Indian artists and link to the artist's web page. It is now possible to construct a helpful list of sites with which to explore the expansive world of contemporary American Indian art. One might even term this an Invisible Index to the world of American Indian contemporary artists.
Contact the Librarian: Lucie Stylianopoulos | 924.6604 | email@example.com