As art evolves it takes on elements of the modern age and applies them to the fundamental presence of its roots. You might be surprised to hear that Native Americans are evolving their art too. Their heritage was formed by a long-standing history of tradition and culture and it wasn’t until quite recently that they started branching out into the world of contemporary art.
So what does this mean for the Native American culture as a whole? Hard to say, but by continuing to evolve, Native American culture grows and remains relevant in modern society.
Struggling with a sense of identity is an issue that Native American communities have to deal with all the time. Many face cultural appropriation by top American brands, the destruction of their artifacts and ancient village remains, and even pollution to their rivers, like Animas back in 2015.
That being said, many Native artists are smashing people’s preconceived notions of Native American art and culture by bringing something new to the table. Contemporary Native artists are pushing the boundaries and drawing from their own culture to make truly inspired works of art.
Hyde, a Onondaga and Nez Perce artist, uses a pop art style to create paintings that use traditional Native American symbolism and brings them into a modern medium with vibrant colors and patterns. This almost surrealist approach to painting depicts the struggles of Native American culture fitting into modern American society in a way that is both defiant and proud. (“Buffalo Burger Study” by Frank Buffalo Hyde)
Wilson, of the Dine Tribe, is a photographer that illustrates how cultural identity can be imposed rather than developed, with his vintage style. (“How the West is One” by Will Wilson)
You can see both artists take from their cultural roots and are evolving it, much like what’s going on with Native American fashion designers. 2016 has seen a positive influx of Native American art and culture emerging from all corners of the country and across multiple industries. I think it’s long past due to start taking in their culture with our own.