Native Arts of the Northwest Coast




4th Floor Classroom


Aaron Glass

This seminar introduces the indigenous arts of the Northwest Coast of North America from historical and contemporary perspectives. We will look at a full range of media and object types—quotidian, ceremonial and commercial—within changing socio-cultural and aesthetic contexts. We will also discuss colonialism as a factor in artistic transformation, and the use of material culture as historical evidence for shifting intercultural relations. Material will be approached from a number of perspectives: the indigenization of foreign materials, motifs, and ideas, as well as the adaptation of Native forms to commercial markets; the development of anthropology and art history, and the history of collection and exhibition; the revaluing of objects in the 20th century as “primitive art;” and the complex relationship of contemporary art with its material precursors. Our goal will be to understand indigenous objects within local histories of cultural production and use, as well as global histories of reception and recontextualization. Opportunities for close examination of objects will be provided, and students will be encouraged to develop original research in local museum collections and archives—especially the American Museum of Natural History. 3 credits. satisfies non-Western requirement