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Old 04-01-2013, 11:27 PM   #1
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Historical or contemporary?

p

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Old 04-02-2013, 12:47 AM   #2
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For me it depends on a wide variety of factors. I greatly admire traditional pieces, both for their beauty as well as the history, culture and stories behind various pieces and techniques. Each piece tells a story about the people who made it and the culture they are from. All of us who are into crafts have our own methods and techniques that can be based on tribal factors or even family techniques that have been handed down through the generations. Historical pieces often show us where we come from and in a way, honor those who have come before us.

Conversely, I often prefer creating contemporary pieces. There are certain times (and certainly not all the time) where I feel that by sticking solely to historical pieces, we end up holding ourselves back in certain ways. For instance, when I go to a powwow or see vendors around here, they all sell the same exact thing. Traditional, historical, stereotypically "native" pieces... and said items for making such pieces. Handmade additions for one's regalia, woven fabrics, beaded trinkets, and the like. What sells the most are "traditional" looking crafts and jewelry.

Spectators eyes are drawn, as we all know, to the romanticism of the ancient native people as a collective. Everything from our culture and languages, right down to how we are expected to dress or make our crafts, relates back to the image of the "historical native man or woman" in the eyes of spectators. When people think of native crafts and artwork, they set in their minds an image of more "old-timey" works... full of buckskins, beads, feathers, and the like. They don't see the incredible rock/metal/R&B/Pop musician, or the graffiti artist, or the comedian, or the contemporary jeweler as native at first glance. They want that old time native look that screams "this was made by an ndn" from a thousand miles away.

When I create something, whether it's my beadwork, leatherwork, drawings, sculptures, or chainmaille, I create something may means something special to me personally. Of course more often than not, it has some form of traditional or historical influence - whether it be the pattern, colors, or method I use. But as an artist, while I am certainly inspired by old stories/traditions/work of my family and tribe(s), I am more inspired by the world around me in the present. I do not live in the world when my ancestors used to create their works, nor do I have the exact same materials. Why then would I limit myself to replicate that which I will never FULLY understand? The world is constantly changing, and so too is our art. No aspect of our being can remain stagnant. In that sense, I prefer contemporary works.

I greatly admire and respect that which is made in a historical or traditional manner. In my eyes, it tells me where each of us came from... but contemporary works also show us where we are going. There is a particular beauty in looking at a piece of contemporary beadwork and being able to see through the eyes of their creator. My contemporary works say, "Hey, this is me. This is where I came from, but this is where I am going and how I see the world NOW".

As to beadwork or quillwork, I think it all depends on my mood really. I admire those who work with quills, and find so many pieces to be absolutely marvelous to see. However, I have yet to develop any skill with the quill. It has its many uses and styles, and a character of its own. Likewise, beadwork has it's own personality and its own story to tell. In a way, they are two cousins, each with their own story and mindset. So I can't decide which I particularly like seeing more.
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Old 04-02-2013, 01:03 AM   #3
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For me it depends on a wide variety of factors. I greatly admire traditional pieces, both for their beauty as well as the history, culture and stories behind various pieces and techniques. Each piece tells a story about the people who made it and the culture they are from. All of us who are into crafts have our own methods and techniques that can be based on tribal factors or even family techniques that have been handed down through the generations. Historical pieces often show us where we come from and in a way, honor those who have come before us.

Conversely, I often prefer creating contemporary pieces. There are certain times (and certainly not all the time) where I feel that by sticking solely to historical pieces, we end up holding ourselves back in certain ways. For instance, when I go to a powwow or see vendors around here, they all sell the same exact thing. Traditional, historical, stereotypically "native" pieces... and said items for making such pieces. Handmade additions for one's regalia, woven fabrics, beaded trinkets, and the like. What sells the most are "traditional" looking crafts and jewelry.

Spectators eyes are drawn, as we all know, to the romanticism of the ancient native people as a collective. Everything from our culture and languages, right down to how we are expected to dress or make our crafts, relates back to the image of the "historical native man or woman" in the eyes of spectators. When people think of native crafts and artwork, they set in their minds an image of more "old-timey" works... full of buckskins, beads, feathers, and the like. They don't see the incredible rock/metal/R&B/Pop musician, or the graffiti artist, or the comedian, or the contemporary jeweler as native at first glance. They want that old time native look that screams "this was made by an ndn" from a thousand miles away.

When I create something, whether it's my beadwork, leatherwork, drawings, sculptures, or chainmaille, I create something may means something special to me personally. Of course more often than not, it has some form of traditional or historical influence - whether it be the pattern, colors, or method I use. But as an artist, while I am certainly inspired by old stories/traditions/work of my family and tribe(s), I am more inspired by the world around me in the present. I do not live in the world when my ancestors used to create their works, nor do I have the exact same materials. Why then would I limit myself to replicate that which I will never FULLY understand? The world is constantly changing, and so too is our art. No aspect of our being can remain stagnant. In that sense, I prefer contemporary works.

I greatly admire and respect that which is made in a historical or traditional manner. In my eyes, it tells me where each of us came from... but contemporary works also show us where we are going. There is a particular beauty in looking at a piece of contemporary beadwork and being able to see through the eyes of their creator. My contemporary works say, "Hey, this is me. This is where I came from, but this is where I am going and how I see the world NOW".

As to beadwork or quillwork, I think it all depends on my mood really. I admire those who work with quills, and find so many pieces to be absolutely marvelous to see. However, I have yet to develop any skill with the quill. It has its many uses and styles, and a character of its own. Likewise, beadwork has it's own personality and its own story to tell. In a way, they are two cousins, each with their own story and mindset. So I can't decide which I particularly like seeing more.
p
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Old 04-02-2013, 01:49 AM   #4
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Thanks for your input! I've been planning on a set for a while and wanted some opinions. Im thinking about mixing shell, dye, beads and quill somehow into my next piece.I love mixing the old designs with sparkles
Yes, the old looking things always sell. I wish people would support the contemporary artists more, instead of ole dream catcher Chinese imports...
Quillwork is quite easy to learn but the preparation takes forever and is stinky, if you ever want to try it ill be happy to help with tips :)
Haha I'm trying sooooo hard not to go on a super long rant or stray from the topic

On one hand, as an artist I say to always do what you love, and do it for you and no one else. If others get something out of viewing your work, awesome. But art is often a physical manifestation of what you feel or think. I think it would be really awesome if you mixed those mediums together. It's creative, and an expression of you as an individual.

I try to support contemporary artists whenever I can (and traditional artists too). Even if their work isn't particularly my style, I appreciate it for what it is, and how much time, effort and skill the artist put into each work in order to share it with the world.

Heh if I see one more Chinese dream catcher, I'll boot someone .

I could very easily go on a long diatribe about the importance of evolving culturally and maintaining balance between the old and new, but I'll sum it up by saying that sometimes it seems that more thought and effort seems to be placed on WHAT we are, rather than WHO we are, or what we do with ourselves and our work as individuals. I have seen some artists place far too much emphasis on trying to show their "NDN-ness" in their work, rather than taking the time to create something from the heart.

We run the chance of becoming elitists in our cultural and art. So often have I heard people say "You can't do it that way"; "Your work is too modern to be classified as native art"; "Why does he/she spell things that way? That's not how it should be"; "They shouldn't be singing in English. Sure they also speak their native language better than I ever could, but they're still singing in English! That's wrong!"; and blah blah blah. The world is changing, and what was once true for a few generations before us, is not always true for the generations ahead.

We must forever be flexible in all aspects, or we will lose ourselves in images of the past.



Oh, and one day I may have to contact you about quill tips!
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Old 04-02-2013, 07:54 PM   #5
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Oh, and one day I may have to contact you about quill tips!
Hey @Fang, those quill tips are sharp!
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Old 04-02-2013, 08:18 PM   #6
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Hey @Fang, those quill tips are sharp!
The better to poke people with for valuable information.
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Old 04-03-2013, 09:35 AM   #7
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I love beadwork period. Yet if I had to choose it would have to be the tradish beadwork. What ever style it is im always glad to see people of all ages learning this craft so we dont loose it! I remember growing up tring new styles, colors yet not forgetting the tradish colors and designs.
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Old 04-03-2013, 10:21 AM   #8
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The better to poke people with for valuable information.
LOL!!!!!!!

I like the historical traditional stuff....just because we do reenactments and we use parts of our regalia for both venues...powwow and rendezvous.

But one of the most amazing bits of beadwork was at the National Powwow summer before last. The gal was very contemporary, but there was NO doubt that she was NDN! I wish I could show you the little Victorian loveseat that she beaded. Everywhere there was upholstery, she had beaded it. And BEAUTIFULLY did it. She had lots of things in her booth that were far from the traditional beadwork items. AMAZING stuff.
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Old 04-03-2013, 11:09 AM   #9
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the better to poke people with for valuable information.
l

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Old 04-03-2013, 11:11 AM   #10
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lol!!!!!!!

I like the historical traditional stuff....just because we do reenactments and we use parts of our regalia for both venues...powwow and rendezvous.

But one of the most amazing bits of beadwork was at the national powwow summer before last. The gal was very contemporary, but there was no doubt that she was ndn! I wish i could show you the little victorian loveseat that she beaded. Everywhere there was upholstery, she had beaded it. And beautifully did it. She had lots of things in her booth that were far from the traditional beadwork items. Amazing stuff.
y
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Old 04-03-2013, 04:20 PM   #11
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Yes, I love both styles! It is very hard to choose which, as sets take a few months, I'm slow... :p
And wow, that must've taken a long time!
Both styles are incredible in their own way, and I have great respect and admiration for those who do either style.

I was hanging out at a local bead shop this morning and came across some beaded boxes. A fairly modern design using a gourd stitch it seems, and I'm so tempted to create a ton in more tradish designs and colors. A way to combine the old with the new.
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Old 04-03-2013, 07:16 PM   #12
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Both styles are incredible in their own way, and I have great respect and admiration for those who do either style.

I was hanging out at a local bead shop this morning and came across some beaded boxes. A fairly modern design using a gourd stitch it seems, and I'm so tempted to create a ton in more tradish designs and colors. A way to combine the old with the new.
I am wild about those bracelets you had posted some time ago. The green one (my fav) reminded me of a tomato worm (only prettier, but you know what I mean).

I hope you take some to sell with your traditional work. We have to remember that what we create today will be the traditional work 100 years from now! So it is a good thing not to be stuck in the 19th century.

Art is anything but static!
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Old 04-03-2013, 07:43 PM   #13
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I am wild about those bracelets you had posted some time ago. The green one (my fav) reminded me of a tomato worm (only prettier, but you know what I mean).

I hope you take some to sell with your traditional work. We have to remember that what we create today will be the traditional work 100 years from now! So it is a good thing not to be stuck in the 19th century.

Art is anything but static!
Aww thanks ^_^. Will direct you to my business FB page when I get everything up.

When do I get to see your work? I can only imagine how amazing your art is.
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Old 04-03-2013, 08:37 PM   #14
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Aww thanks ^_^. Will direct you to my business FB page when I get everything up.

When do I get to see your work? I can only imagine how amazing your art is.
I'm always complaining to @wardancer because he is SO DANG FAST and I take a lot of time to complete anything. Right now I'm in the middle of bias woven full length hair drops for my teenager. Talk about traditional!

Instead of being on here, I should be working on them. Here is where I am so far....I have gone beyond the first split.
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Old 04-03-2013, 09:19 PM   #15
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I'm always complaining to @wardancer because he is SO DANG FAST and I take a lot of time to complete anything. Right now I'm in the middle of bias woven full length hair drops for my teenager. Talk about traditional!

Instead of being on here, I should be working on them. Here is where I am so far....I have gone beyond the first split.
Wow! That's beautiful! Totally love your work!!! How long have you been working on them? **stares constantly at the craftsmanship and pure awesomeness of your work**


Here's some random contemporary things I've been working on lately. Just finished a set for a friend in black and clear crystals (pics don't show them very well) that had a wedding to go to, and a bracelet I did a while ago for my niece. Not very 'tradish-inspired', but suited their purpose I guess.



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Old 04-03-2013, 09:55 PM   #16
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Wow! That's beautiful! Totally love your work!!! How long have you been working on them? **stares constantly at the craftsmanship and pure awesomeness of your work**


Here's some random contemporary things I've been working on lately. Just finished a set for a friend in black and clear crystals (pics don't show them very well) that had a wedding to go to, and a bracelet I did a while ago for my niece. Not very 'tradish-inspired', but suited their purpose I guess.




Oh wow, that last pink one is awesome and my fav. I love all of those. After seeing yours, I'm starting to lean more to liking the contemporary now. Those are so beautiful. The crystals are beautiful too.

It's kind of funny, but whatever we create today is the new tradish in a few years! The year 1900 won't be the NDN art renaissance of the future. It is today. It belongs to us!

Re: Hair ties. Thanks, it's taking a long time to do these. Each one of those rows in the top part was taking me about 10-15 minutes. That's SLOW. I can do two rows that fast after the split.

The pic doesn't show the top. It's longer than that. My daughter has already made the hair wrapper that goes with it. She's tapping her toes waiting on me, but it takes time...and I've been spending too much of that time on here.

I talk to my kids about balancing their time, and I totally come off like a hypocrite. So I am going to do better. It's hard to stay off this thing. I wish I were as fast as wardancer. He punches out set after set, and I am still working on the same project. I asked him if he were working on his beading night and day, but he's not, only a few hours a day.

Well, I'm going to use a little self discipline and get off here and work on those hair drops. You all have inspired me to do the right thing.
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Old 04-03-2013, 10:32 PM   #17
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[insert another unnecessarily long Fang-rant]

One of the problems I sometimes find happening with contemporary pieces is sometimes I find myself overcompensating on trying to make it "more native". Love traditional pieces, but am not too good at making them yet. And I love contemporary pieces, but am constantly told by fellow ndns that those works aren't "native art". But what makes our art, native art? Is it the fact that an indigenous person from one of the many tribes made it? Or is it that the art is similar to that of our ancestors? Or perhaps is it in the stories, heart and inspiration used in our works?

My inspiration for the crystal bracelet was a story my great grandmother and my mother used to tell me as a child about the Star People. And the one for my niece was created with the thought of weaving a ladder of future generations, circle within circle that continues on. If what makes 'native art' is the technique, design, and color behind each piece that has been passed on from our ancestors, does that mean that no art which is contemporary is native? Or is it the thought, inspiration behind each piece, and the individual artist that make it Native art? That's a question I sometimes ponder while working.


Can we as [contemporary] artists effectively represent our people through our ideas, emotions, and inspirations and remain firmly modern in our creations?

[/end unnecessarily long Fang-rant]
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Old 04-03-2013, 10:35 PM   #18
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I talk to my kids about balancing their time, and I totally come off like a hypocrite. So I am going to do better. It's hard to stay off this thing. I wish I were as fast as wardancer. He punches out set after set, and I am still working on the same project. I asked him if he were working on his beading night and day, but he's not, only a few hours a day.

Well, I'm going to use a little self discipline and get off here and work on those hair drops. You all have inspired me to do the right thing.
Time prioritization has never been something I'm good at either. Let's get to work and stop piddling around!
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Old 04-04-2013, 10:21 AM   #19
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if i was to pick, it all depends on situation i guess and what im wearing. tradish powwows more of the quillwork. contemp more of beadwork. but in all i prefer my ribbonwork.i know totally off the subject there lol but i love applique on dresses and ribbonwork.
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Old 04-04-2013, 12:52 PM   #20
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[insert another unnecessarily long Fang-rant]

One of the problems I sometimes find happening with contemporary pieces is sometimes I find myself overcompensating on trying to make it "more native". Love traditional pieces, but am not too good at making them yet. And I love contemporary pieces, but am constantly told by fellow ndns that those works aren't "native art". But what makes our art, native art? Is it the fact that an indigenous person from one of the many tribes made it? Or is it that the art is similar to that of our ancestors? Or perhaps is it in the stories, heart and inspiration used in our works?

My inspiration for the crystal bracelet was a story my great grandmother and my mother used to tell me as a child about the Star People. And the one for my niece was created with the thought of weaving a ladder of future generations, circle within circle that continues on. If what makes 'native art' is the technique, design, and color behind each piece that has been passed on from our ancestors, does that mean that no art which is contemporary is native? Or is it the thought, inspiration behind each piece, and the individual artist that make it Native art? That's a question I sometimes ponder while working.


Can we as [contemporary] artists effectively represent our people through our ideas, emotions, and inspirations and remain firmly modern in our creations?

[/end unnecessarily long Fang-rant]

What you create is NATIVE because you are native. Your work has a story woven in it. When you sell your work, you should share the story of the creation so the wearer can appreciate the intent behind the piece.

I know, a lot of artists don't want to explain things (my youngest daughter is a big ranter on that and doesn't agree with me), but the average person who wears NDN art wants to understand what things mean. When you share the story, the new owner appreciates the intent and values the work even more.

A lot of tradish designs are out there that no one knows the meaning behind them. Some are clan or old society designs, and some of them are known, but for others, it's a guess at best because the meaning was lost over time.

While your work is contemporary now, later in time they will be prized for being early 21st century pieces. Tradish pieces might be looked upon as 21st century reproduction works!!!

You want collectors and experts to be able to identify your work. That is why I do certain secret things to every piece I create that only I do. So even when I'm not around to confirm it, an expert can say YES, that's a Docataawa piece because these secret elements are all in the beadwork, no other artist did that. So the work will speak for me long after I'm gone.

You can do that as well..and perhaps you already do it. But the meanings of the designs can get lost. If you tell your buyer and archive the information on the internet (with a pic), there is a good chance that your creation story will survive long after you are gone.
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