Shapeshifting: Transformations in Native American Art by Karen Kramer Russell, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Shapeshifting: Transformations in Native American Art

Shapeshifting: Transformations in Native American Art

by Karen Kramer Russell
     
 

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Public perception of Native American art and culture has often been derived from misunderstandings and misinterpretations, and from images promulgated by popular culture. Typically, Native Americans are grouped as a whole and their art and culture considered part of the past rather than widely present. Shapeshifting challenges these assumptions by focusing

Overview

Public perception of Native American art and culture has often been derived from misunderstandings and misinterpretations, and from images promulgated by popular culture. Typically, Native Americans are grouped as a whole and their art and culture considered part of the past rather than widely present. Shapeshifting challenges these assumptions by focusing on the objects as art rather than cultural or anthropological artifacts and on the multivalent creativity of Native American artists. The approach highlights the inventive contemporaneity that existed in all periods and continues today. More than 75 works in a wide range of media and scale are organized into four thematic groups: changing—expanding the imagination; knowing—expressing worldview; locating—exploring identity and place; and voicing—engaging the individual. The result is a paradigm shift in understanding Native American art.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This supplemental volume to the exhibition at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass. aims to dispel the notion that Native American art is "predictable" and "lodged in the past." While traditional values linger, globalization has transformed both production and perception, ensuring that "artistic and cultural development" not only persists, but flourishes. This confluence of past and present is enacted in many of the pieces featured in this compelling volume, such as Brian Jungen's Cetology, a 50-foot whale skeleton comprising deconstructed plastic patio chairs. Other works deftly comment on the usurpation of traditional forms of documentation, as in Dwayne Wilcox's After Two or Three Hundred Years You Will Not Notice—a contemporary riff on Plains-style ledger art featuring a U.S. government official shackling a red, white, and blue ball and chain to a Native America's leg; and Rebecca Belmore's Fringe—a striking photograph of a reclining woman with a gash that runs the length of her back and is sewed up with thread and red beads. Interspersed with the artwork are illuminating essays by critics, curators, and artists, and each piece is accompanied by a brief but informative blurb. Russell and her colleagues admirably achieve their goal of asserting the vibrant relevancy of Native American art in this stunning book that will appeal to a general audience, as well as art aficionados. Color illus. (Feb.)
A. Wirkkala - Choice
"This intriguing volume provides not only a record of a groundbreaking Peabody Essex Museum exhibition, but also a glimpse into an all-too-unknown world of American art. . . . This volume truly is a celebration of Native American art across the centuries."—A. Wirkkala, Choice
Religious Studies Review - Jeremy W. H. Arnold

“If I could, I would urge all Americans to read this text, for as the title suggests, their perceptions of Native peoples may become as transformed in their understanding as the art itself has transformed through the span of time.”—Jeremy W. H. Arnold, Religious Studies

Library Journal
In this companion piece to the show of the same name at the Peabody Essex Museum, edited by Russell (curator, Native American art & culture, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA), contributors examine the evolution of Native American art. The book includes traditional pieces as well as contemporary works that incorporate new ideas, media, and symbols along with old; works from as early as 200 B.C.E. are featured alongside pieces from the present. Divided into four sections ("Changing," "Knowing," "Locating," and "Voicing"), each with an introductory essay, the book presents artworks accompanied by identifying information, a brief description, notes, and references. Though the essays can be a bit verbose, the concluding piece, "Famous Long Ago," by Janet Catherine Berlo (art history, Univ. of Rochester), is refreshingly readable. VERDICT This new resource for art scholars, students of Native American studies, and those with a strong interest in Native American culture will update readers' perceptions of Native American art. An essential title for academic and arts collections.—Jennifer Naimzadeh, ABBE Regional Lib. Syst., Bamberg, SC

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780300177329
Publisher:
Yale University Press
Publication date:
02/28/2012
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
248
Sales rank:
1,194,696
Product dimensions:
10.30(w) x 11.70(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Karen Kramer Russell is curator of Native American art and culture at the Peabody Essex Museum and president of the Native American Art Studies Association.

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