Shapeshifting by Karen Kramer Russell
Transformations in Native American Art (Peabody Essex Museum)

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Synopsis

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.

 

About Karen Kramer Russell

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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.
 
Published February 7, 2012 by Yale University Press. 248 pages
Genres: History, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction

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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 v

Mar 26 2012 | Read Full Review of Shapeshifting: Transformation...

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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...

Mar 26 2012 | Read Full Review of Shapeshifting: Transformation...

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