In this richly illustrated book, Neal B. Keating explores
Iroquois visual expression through more than five thousand years,
from its emergence in ancient North America into the early
twenty-first century. Drawing on extensive archival research and
fieldwork with Iroquois artists and communities, Keating
foregrounds the voices and visions of Iroquois peoples, revealing
how they have continuously used visual expression to adapt
creatively to shifting political and economic environments.
Iroquois, or Haudenosaunee, peoples have long been the subjects
of Western study. From the seventeenth to the nineteenth century,
European and Euro- American writers classified Iroquois works not
as art but as culturally lower forms of expression. During the
twentieth century, Western critics commonly rejected contemporary
Native art both as art and as an "inauthentic" expression of
Indianness. Keating exposes the false assumptions underlying these
perceptions. Approaching his subject from the perspective of an
anthropologist, he focuses on the social relations and processes
that are indexed by Iroquois visual culture through time, and he
shows how Iroquois images are deployed in colonized contexts.
As he traces the history of Iroquois art practice, Keating seeks
a middle road between ethnohistorical approaches and the activist
perspectives of contemporaryartists. He is one of the first
scholars in Iroquois studies to emphasize painting, a popular art
form among present-day Iroquois. He conceptualizes painting
broadly, to include writing, incising, drawing, tattoo, body
painting, photography, videography, and digital media. Featuring
more than 100 color and black-and-white reproductions, this volume
embraces a wide array of artworks in diverse media, prompting new
appreciation--and deeper understanding--of Iroquois art and its
historical and contemporary significance.
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