Is it Diversity or Economics? - Finding New Artists on the Web
The Big Picture
Researchers on contemporary artists face one major obstacle - many young artists have never had a major exhibition. Few, if any of them, have had a catalogue produced or an article written about them. For years, this meant that art libraries compiled vast vertical files of flyers, postcards, inserts, and other ephemera that might record for history that fleeting moment of a lost exhibition. With the advent of the Web, smaller galleries and other nontraditional arts groups found a home for their publicity. For under-represented peoples - American Indian, Latino/Chicano, and African American artists, particularly- the lack of national exposure was further compounded by a traditional lack of access to any gallery space. Recently, collectors have discovered these artists, causing galleries to realize their market value. The focus of this website is to find and identify dependable resources in which to research contemporary American Indian artists. At times, the traditional view of what is an authoritative reference has come into question. Can the Web be the resource of choice for research in contemporary art? I believe it can for American Indian artists. Before looking into the Native Web, however, a brief comparison of other groups is warranted.
African American Artists
The decade of the 1990's saw an increase in the representation of minority artists in exhibitions. Collecting the works of Black artists increased among the African-American community ("Narratives of African-American Art and Identity; the David C. Driskell Collection") and drove a parallel increase in scholarly articles on the subject. University art departments similarly opened their galleries to exhibitions of black artists (African-American Art on the Internet). A simple search of major online databases in modern art reveals that this surge in collecting has produced many scholarly articles on Black artists, including in ArtBibliographies Modern (288), BHA- Bibliography of the History of Art (121) and Art Index (347).
Latino and Chicano artists have also increased exposure in the arts during the last decade due in part to the interest of museum curators (Arte Latino). A national forum for responsible museum collecting also emphasized issues for Hispanic artists (Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative, "Curating Now: Imaginative Practice/Public Responsibility"). A new position was recently created in the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston for a Curator of Latin American Art. The curator, Mari-Carmen Ramirez, and the Houston museum have provided the catalyst for a new appreciation of Latin American art as well as critical evaluation of museum collections (Ramirez, M.Collecting Latin American Art for the 21st Century, 2002). Museum interest in Latino artists has filtered into the gallery scene as well; articles and reviews of exhibitions are now more plentiful (National Hispanic Cultural Centre of New Mexico). A search of the major databases, ArtBibliographies Modern (163), BHA- Bibliography of the History of Art (159) and Art Index (243), reflects the increase in scholarly publications.
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