Sunday, March 8, 2009

Native American Comic Strips

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian opened “Comic Art Indigène” in the Sealaska Gallery. This small exhibition is not about depictions of Native Americans (which were often offensive) but is about the role of narrative art and sequential images created by Native Americans. It features more than 35 artworks, including paintings, works on paper, jewelry and clay figurines, and shows the evolution of narrative art through early examples of rock art, ledger art and ceramics and reveals how these traditional art forms are adapted to contemporary pieces of expression such as comic strips and panels. The exhibition is open until May 31.

Storytelling has long been an integral part of Native culture, and the exhibition looks at how stories are told through comics and comic-inspired art to express the contemporary Native American experience. Similar to American Indian cultures, comic art is amazingly complex and adaptive. As the first widely accessible mass media, comics were consumed by Indian people as a recognizable form of storytelling; they express cultural stories through pictures.

Featured artists include Marcus Amerman (Choctaw), Jason Garcia (Santa Clara Pueblo), Lisa Holt (Cochiti Pueblo), Eva Mirabel (Taos Pueblo), Harlan Reano (Santo Domingo Pueblo), Diego Romero (Cochiti Pueblo), Mateo Romero (Cochiti Pueblo), Rose Bean Simpson (Santa Clara Pueblo), Ryan Huna Smith (Chemehuevi/Navajo), Marty Two Bulls (Oglala Lakota), and Jolene Nenibah Yazzie (Navajo).

Click on the heading above to go to the website for the National Museum of the American Indian.
Click on the image above to see a larger version.

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