March 31, 2007

Eastern counterpart of IAIA

Tribal art school has great potentialArt is a term foreign in the Cherokee language and many other native languages because art does not exist in the Cherokee life view. However, the expression of creativity has long held deep significance and has transcended the mere construction of an art object. The creativity expressed through cultural material in native communities does not reflect a single belief or story or tradition but is the embodiment of native philosophies in the design and use of a particular object.

The Eastern Band of Cherokee believes that art and its production is central to the continuation of our life way to another level. They have recently articulated this belief by collaborating with Southwestern Community College and Western Carolina University to create the Oconaluftee Institute for Cultural Art (OICA). The new institute puts into practice applied theory, practical application and native sensibility to define art for a new century. The idea is not a new one. The OICA is roughly modeled after the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe, N.M. The IAIA was developed as an alternative school for problematic native youths. The congressionally chartered IAIA became a premier institution for the rise of contemporary native expression despite its original intent. The unforeseen impact on the local community was even greater. Santa Fe has become known as the art town of the Southwest.

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