Native American Art

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This course presents a broad overview of the visual arts of Native America in their historical and contemporary contexts. For the majority of the lectures, we will proceed geographically, examining artworks produced by peoples of the Southwest (Anasazi, Mimbres, Hohokam, Pueblo, Navajo, Apache), East (Archaic, Woodland, Mississippian, Chitimacha, Seminole, Miccosukee), West (Ancient Plains, Lakota, Kiowa), Far West (Chumash, Pomo, Washoe), North (Beothuk, Innu, Cree, Dene), Northwest Coast (Chilkat, Tlingit, Tsimshian), and Hawaii (Kanaka Maoli). During our last lectures, we will look to art produced after 1900, when a pan-Indian identity began to develop, resulting in works that are not always easily categorized by specific tribal communities or geographic areas. The works that we will consider over the course of the semester span a wide spectrum of media: pottery, basketry, textiles, architecture, sculpture, painting, performance, installation, photography, etc. We will grapple with complex questions regarding whether or not all of the objects under review should be deemed “art” in the Euro-American sense of the term, which in many cases has been retroactively accorded these objects. We will also be attendant to the effects that new economies, markets, materials, technologies, and patronage have had upon the circulation of these works, as well as the production/reception of newer works.

Credits: 2.00

Course Code: HTA 325

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.