February 22, 2012

French surprised by Native diversity

Native Americans in Paris: Oklahoma Painters Make Historic Trip

By Dominique GodrecheThe eleven Native artists had come to the City of Light for an art show titled “Oklahoma Painters,” part of the sixth annual “Art en Capital” event at the massive Grand Palais. Skye and ten other Native artists were exhibiting watercolor and acrylic paintings in the Salon du Dessin et de la Peintre a l’eau (Salon of Drawing and Watercolor Painting) one of five legendary annual exhibitions drawn together at the Grand Palais. (The other four are the Societe des Artistes Independants, Societe Nationale des Beaux-arts, Comparaisons, and the Societe des Artistes Francais.) The exhibit was set up by curator Russell Tallchief, Osage, who is Director of Arts & Exhibitions at the American Indian Cultural Center & Museum in Oklahoma City, at the request of Ginette Adamson, a painter and former French Literature professor who divides her time between Strasbourg and Oklahoma.

For a Parisian public largely unfamiliar with contemporary Native American art, the opportunity to view the works and meet the artists was unprecedented. French ideas about American Indians, like those of many people around the world, remain associated with the “romantic” vision derived from Hollywood movies and the photos of Edward Curtis: Feathers, leather and face paint. Many visitors were taken aback by the display of modern Native creativity. “I am surprised by the great diversity,” said one. “These works are all grouped under the label ‘native.’ I am looking for a common touch in the paintings, and I don’t see one. Coming to this show, I had a simplistic vision, a fantasy of a single unified culture. But I see a wide variety in this art; these painters are drawing on their culture’s past, yes, but from modernity and classicism as well.”
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Two New England Art Shows and Jetsonorama's Larger-Than-Life Art.

Below:  "Artist Yatika Fields in Paris."

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