March 08, 2013

Make It Pop skewers misappropriation

American Indian Pop Art sizzles at All My Relations Gallery in Minneapolis

REVIEW: In a sizzling Pop Art show, 12 American Indian artists critique wannabes who masquerade in native garb.

By Mary AbbeIdentity theft is trouble enough in e-commerce, but imagine your whole culture snatched, abused and clichéd by outsiders.

That’s what some contemporary American Indian artists claim that pop culture is doing to their heritage, and they’re not amused. Their critique of the broader culture rolls out in “Make It Pop,” a sassy, savvy little show of paintings, drawings, sculpture and ornaments on view through May 4 at All My Relations Gallery in south Minneapolis. The most effective criticisms arrive in clever, meticulously executed designs buttressed with smart, informative labels. While the show’s quality is uneven, its high points argue provocatively that these are all talents to watch.

Vegas showgirls have probably always worn feathered plumage, but flaunting a chief’s floor-length feathered bonnet is “In-Appropriate,” as Frank Buffalo Hyde titles his painting of a curvaceous woman sporting the headgear above a leopard-spotted bikini bottom and turquoise jewelry. A pale-skinned bronco buster with war paint streaking his cheeks, and a black dude wearing star-spangled shades and a red-white-and-blue feathered headdress are likewise “In-Appropriate,” as is an “Indian” princess with blond hair and a beaded headband.

As Hyde, a Nez Percé/Onondaga, observes in an accompanying text, such images “do not pay homage to the indigenous people of North America” but are “Red-Face racism that is effortlessly marketed to the masses.” Taking the show’s most uncompromising position, he insists that Indians can only win “this conflict of idea versus ideal … when we own our own image.”
Comment:  For more on modern Native art, see Traditional vs. Contemporary Native Art and N.D.N.: Native Diaspora Now.

Below:  "In his painting In-Appropriate #3, Frank Buffalo Hyde objects to culture theft in the costume of a showgirl who wears a floor-length chief’s headdress."

"With Stereotype: The Barrymore, Cannupa Hanska Luger mocks the faux native dress of a Hollywood hipster."

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