21 November 2011

Questionart #4

Do you think Native Pop is an art movement? If so, what are some of its characteristics and the thoughts that inspire it?

First of all, yes I do think it is a valid/vibrant subcategory of Native Art. Some characteristics would include the visual cacophony that a lot of us grew up with from Saturday morning cartoons to films like Star Wars, and other types of things grew out of mass media in general. I also think that these various things get filtered through the lens of our particular
Kill Your Idols, Hoka Skenandore, acrylic on canvas
experience,  (urban/rez/young/old/traditional/etc.) and the end result is something not quite like the Pop art of the 1960's, but is perhaps a little more personal because it resonates and sometimes clashes with our individual tribal backgrounds.

In terms of thoughts that inspire it I think that all Native Art has been influenced by outside materials/terms/experiences from contact until today, and a lot of the time what is right in front of the artist can readily become art. Speaking for myself, I find it amusing that what I do is considered Pop, a lot of the imagery that I appropriate/steal/make ugly is old, literally taken from really old sources or from magazines thrown out in the garbage. I've found that Pop Art imagery tends to lean toward the "Now" and I tend to pilfer the past... anyhoo, I digress into the "me-me-I-me" artist-ego, let-me-talk-some-more-about-my-vision crap...

–Hoka Skenandore
(LuiseƱo-Oneida-Oglala Lakota) | website

You're My Best Friend, April Holder, acrylic
I totally think native pop is an art movement. If Native Americans live in two worlds, then native pop is the bridge between those two worlds. Native pop art is the combination of the essence of traditional identity and the embrace of the ever changing world around us. I love native pop; this is a cool question. Hope my answer helps.

–April Holder
(Sac and Fox-Wichita-Tonkawa)

I don't know if Native Pop is so much a movement as it is an instinct to decide to do whatever you desire to do. When I first learned beadwork, I did Mickey Mouse. I didn't know anything about art or native art. I was doing beadwork and I wanted to do what I liked.

A friend in high school commissioned me to do a "Rush 2012" beaded belt buckle and I did it. I don't think I had created any boundaries at that age about what I could or couldn't, should or shouldn't, or if it was Indian. It was me. From the beginning, I and other people thought my stuff was cool and different. There was no intellectual discussion of it's artistic merits, it was just neat.  I consider myself a citizen of the world and as such I feel enabled and maybe entitled to do or depict or comment on anything in my world.

Marilyn Monroe, Marcus Amerman, beaded rosette
I also consider myself an Indian and therefore more closely related to the Indigenous populations of America, North America and the Americas. Because I felt like the same blood courses through my veins that coursed through all Indians, I felt comfortable and proud to depict great chiefs and leaders from all tribes. Perhaps, marketing is a factor that can encourage or support the use of popular imagery in Native Expression. I did beaded bracelet series of musicians, actors and civil rights leaders and they all sold.

I really never had to think about what I was doing, because I was too busy doing it. I later discovered that I was making art and specifically, pop art.
–Marcus Amerman
(Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma) | website


Roy said...

I see it as an appropriation of the mass culture we are all exposed to. The mass culture has always misappropriated native cultures, and so as artists that are also tribal people, I think we are in a way "misappropriating" the "other" culture and filtering it through our own lens. Many times it appears as humorous homage, but other times it can be a rather poignant attack on their misappropriation of our tribal heritage.

ahalenia said...

Maybe it's not unusual for artists to incorporate pop culture motifs; what's strange is that anyone would expect Native artists to ignore the 21st century and leave it out of their art completely.

"Native Pop" doesn't seem to have much philosophically in common with "Pop Art," since Western notions of high and low culture haven't had a major impact on Native art. Instead Native Pop seems to be much more informed by Pop Surrealism, which is one mainstream art movement that celebrates technique as well as content.

Traci L. Morris said...

I think this is an example of humor in Native art. While there are elements of humor and social critique in nearly all Native art, the manifestations seen above, are just more blatant examples. However, I don't think applying the term "pop art" (from the dominant culture's lexicon) is appropriate.

ahalenia said...

Yes! Better vocabulary is definitely needed! A few years back I tried to convince my students that Pop Art was named for Pop Chalee but they didn't buy it for a second.

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