Oversized Plastic Toy Indians by Yoram Wolberger
Wolberger brings the miniature distortions of tiny toy Indians into full scale, making their stereotypical imagery easier to grasp.
He understands the power and impact these toys had on untold millions of American children.
That being said, the pessimist in me feels that there will still be people who will see these sculptures and have their stereotypes reinforced. But thankfully the artist's own words give me confidence that anyone who visits these sculptures in a gallery will never look at "Indians" the same way again.
Alas, I suspect children and dumber adults won't get the message. They'll think the same thing they think when they see an Indian mascot. "Look, an Indian! It looks just like a real one!"
Fortunately, these aren't the people who usually visit museums. I think brighter adults will get the message. If nothing else, they'll read the artist's statement.
It's interesting how context affects the message. If you saw one of these pieces in a toy store, or in front of a school with a "Chiefs" mascot, you wouldn't necessarily think of it as a critique. But in a museum, the message is more clear. Art is supposed to confront and change your perceptions, and museum goers understand that.
This is one of the few contexts where someone is legitimately using stereotypes to challenge stereotypes. And even here, it's dependent on the context. If this plastic Indian were in a Toy Story movie or Dudesons episode, no, I wouldn't call it a satire. Art often satirizes, but mass-market entertainment usually doesn't.
For more on the subject, see Indian Toys and Games and "Cowboys and Indians" Images.
Below: Red Indian Chief and Red Indian #2 (Bowman), 2005.