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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Shows hit Native American art from two perspectives

Sarah Lane –– THE BATTALION
Supply chain management junior Rachel Lueckemeyer studies some of the Native American art displayed in the MSC art galleries.  The articles will be on displayed until March 17. 
Sarah Lane –– THE BATTALION Supply chain management junior Rachel Lueckemeyer studies some of the Native American art displayed in the MSC art galleries.  The articles will be on displayed until March 17. 

MSC art galleries have teamed up to display Native American art in the exhibit “Seeing Native American: Historic Impressions.” Gallery workers hope to communicate the way an artist’s cultural background influences his or her perception of Native Americans.
The Forsyth Galleries will focus on Native American art created by Anglo-Americans, while the Stark Galleries will focus on art created by Native Americans to depict themselves.
“We have, in our permanent collection, a lot of historical art and the Stark Galleries have some contemporary pieces by Native American artists in their permanent collection and had the opportunity to borrow some pieces from a collector,” said Amanda Dyer, assistant director of the Forsyth Galleries. “We thought it would be a good idea to combine the two to see how contemporary artists interpret Native Americans and how Native Americans depict themselves.”
Cathy Hastedt, art galleries director and curator, helped choose pieces for the exhibit from the Texas A&M collection as well as from a local Bryan collector.
“I wanted to show one of the traditions in Native American art when portraying their own culture — it is actually taboo to show exactly what goes on in their ceremonies, so what they do is portray elements of them,” Hastedt said. “You’ll see lots of images of singing as part of their ceremonies, you see lots of images of elongated figures with slit eyes and open mouths and singing and asking for healing for someone who’s sick, things like that.”
Angela Hudson, associate professor of history who specializes in Native American history and the 19th century American South, said it’s important to provide both sets of artistic perspectives in the exhibit.
“American Indians constitute only about 1.7 percent of the total American population, but representations of them — their images, their histories, and their symbols — are ubiquitous in American culture,” Hudson said. “Everywhere you turn, there are Indian mascots, headdresses, dream catchers, not to mention the abundance of Native images in formal works of art, television and film. Long before most Americans ever meet an indigenous person, they have already confronted and internalized visions of ‘Indianness.’”
Hudson said this distorted perception makes a representation of American Indians by Native artists especially important.
“While we don’t want to reduce these artists’ vision to merely resisting stereotypes, their work nevertheless helps to dispel misconceptions about what it means to be indigenous by presenting a much more vibrant, diverse and complex picture of American Indian life,” Hudson said.
The exhibition began on Jan. 15 and will be on display until March 17.

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