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Creating to compete: juried exhibitions of Native American painting, 1946-1960

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In the middle of the 20th century, juried annuals of Native American painting in art museums were unique opportunities because of their select focus on two-dimensional art as opposed to

In the middle of the 20th century, juried annuals of Native American painting in art museums were unique opportunities because of their select focus on two-dimensional art as opposed to "craft" objects and their inclusion of artists from across the United States. Their first fifteen years were critical for patronage and widespread acceptance of modern easel painting. Held at the Philbrook Art Center in Tulsa (1946-1979), the Denver Art Museum (1951-1954), and the Museum of New Mexico Art Gallery in Santa Fe (1956-1965), they were significant not only for the accolades and prestige they garnered for award winners, but also for setting standards of quality and style at the time. During the early years of the annuals, the art was changing, some moving away from conventional forms derived from the early art training of the 1920s and 30s in the Southwest and Oklahoma, and incorporating modern themes and styles acquired through expanded opportunities for travel and education. The competitions reinforced and reflected a variety of attitudes about contemporary art which ranged from preserving the authenticity of the traditional style to encouraging experimentation. Ultimately becoming sites of conflict, the museums that hosted annuals contested the directions in which artists were working. Exhibition catalogs, archived documents, and newspaper and magazine articles about the annuals provide details on the exhibits and the changes that occurred over time. The museums' guidelines and motivations, and the statistics on the award winners reveal attitudes toward the art. The institutions' reactions in the face of controversy and their adjustments to the annuals' guidelines impart the compromises each made as they adapted to new trends that occurred in Native American painting over a fifteen year period. This thesis compares the approaches of three museums to their juried annuals and establishes the existence of a variety of attitudes on contemporary Native American painting from 1946-1960. Through this collection of institutional views, the competitions maintained a patronage base for traditional style painting while providing opportunities for experimentation, paving the way for the great variety and artistic progress of Native American painting today.

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  • 2012

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Displacement, belonging, photography: gender and Iranian identity in Shirin Neshat's The women of Allah (1993-7) and The book of kings (2012)

Description

Shirin Neshat is recognized as the most prominent artist of the Iranian diaspora. Her two photographic series, Women of Allah (1993-97) and The Book of Kings (2012), are both reactions

Shirin Neshat is recognized as the most prominent artist of the Iranian diaspora. Her two photographic series, Women of Allah (1993-97) and The Book of Kings (2012), are both reactions to the socio-political events and the change of female identity in Iran. The search for Iranian identity has a long tradition in Iranian photography. Neshat's figures, with their penetrating gazes, heavy draperies, and body postures, make reference to nineteenth-century Qajar photography. Through various cultural elements in her artworks, Neshat critiques oppression in Iranian society. Neshat employs and inscribes Persian poetry to communicate contradiction within Iranian culture.

To read Neshat’s photography, it is crucial to register her use of Persian language and historical poetry. Although the reading and understanding of the Persian texts Neshat inscribes on her photographs plays a fundamental role in the interpretation of her work, Neshat’s artworks are not entirely conceptual. The lack of translation of these included texts in Neshat’s exhibitions indicates a decorative use of Persian calligraphy. The Western eye can aesthetically explore this exotic Eastern decorative calligraphy. The formal qualities of Neshat’s photographs remain, even if the viewer is unable to read or understand the Persian texts.

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  • 2015

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Necessity of Being: Alfonso Ossorio's Critical Kapwa

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Despite his critical role in the development of American Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, and Postwar Assemblage, gay Filipino-American artist Alfonso Ossorio remains at the margins of the historiography of these movements.

Despite his critical role in the development of American Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, and Postwar Assemblage, gay Filipino-American artist Alfonso Ossorio remains at the margins of the historiography of these movements. Born in Manila, Philippines, the artist immigrated to the United States in 1930 where he lived and worked until his death in 1990 at his home city of East Hampton, New York. He is among the few Philippine-descended artists living in 20th-century America producing museum-collected works. Since America’s colonial occupation of the Philippines in the 19th-century, immigration has been increasing as a result of migrant labor, military recruitment, and economic exchange. However, the Philippine diaspora’s artistic contributions and visual identity before 1980 are largely under-researched in the United States. Queer artists of color, especially Filipinx-Americans, rarely feature in the dominant narratives of American modernity. Ossorio deeply inflected the trajectory of the American avant-garde yet his marginal place in the history demonstrates how art communities excluded queer and Philippine-American identities in the 20th-century during the development of two major American modernist movements. The scholarship has increased since Ossorio’s death in 1990 as a result of museum and gallery exhibitions. Previous writers focus on biographical description or contextualize Ossorio’s work within a broad movement category without considering Ossorio’s Filipino-American and gay identities in advanced detail from queer and critical race frameworks. These studies lack specific theoretical analysis around race, sexuality, and colonialism on Ossorio’s identity and his artistic communities. Through the analysis of his paintings and archival documents, this thesis argues that Ossorio’s negotiation of these intersecting minority categories is central to understanding his artistic production and his relationship to the American avant-garde. This research applies the current literature on queer theory, critical race theory, and postcolonial theory on Filipinx-American identity to Ossorio’s life and artwork. I center the work of Philippine psychologist Virgilio G. Enriquez with additions from Filipinx-American scholars Martin F. Manalansan IV, Vicente Rafael, Denise Cruz and American scholars art historian Richard Meyer and queer theorist Judith Butler when examining the artworks Untitled 1944 (1944) and Astonished Mother (1950) in the context of Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism respectively.

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  • 2021

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Constantin Brancusi's primitivism

Description

The Romanian avant-garde artist Constantin Brancusi is considered one of the most significant artists of modern sculpture. This is due to his innovative use of materials, such as wood and

The Romanian avant-garde artist Constantin Brancusi is considered one of the most significant artists of modern sculpture. This is due to his innovative use of materials, such as wood and marble, and his reduction and precision of form. Brancusi developed his abstraction with "primitive" sources of art in mind. This thesis examines how and to what extent primitivism played a central role in Brancusi's sculptures and his construction as a primitive artist.

Romanian folk art and African art were the two main sources of influence on Brancusi's primitivism. Brancusi identified himself with the Romanian peasantry and its folk culture. Romanian folk culture embraces woodcarving and folk literary fables--both of which Brancusi incorporated in his sculptures. In my opinion, Brancusi's wood pedestals, such as the Endless Column, are based on wood funerary, decorative, and architectural motifs from Romanian villages.

Brancusi was exposed to African art through his relationship with the New York avant-garde. The art dealers Alfred Stieglitz, Marius de Zayas, and Joseph Brummer exhibited Brancusi's sculptures in their galleries, in addition to exhibiting African art. Meanwhile, Brancusi's main patron John Quinn also collected African art. His interaction with the New York avant-garde led him to incorporate formal features of African sculpture, such as the oval forms of African masks, into his abstract sculptures. Brancusi also used African art to expose the racial prejudice of his time. African art, along with Romanian folk art, informed Brancusi's primitivism consistently throughout his long career as a modern sculptor.

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  • 2014

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Drawing citizenship through Vincent Valdez's Stations: construction and representation

Description

This project is a critical look at Chicano artist Vincent Valdez's 2002-2004 series Stations. The theoretical framework for this work is the concept of cultural citizenship, which refers to a

This project is a critical look at Chicano artist Vincent Valdez's 2002-2004 series Stations. The theoretical framework for this work is the concept of cultural citizenship, which refers to a variety of ways in which marginalized groups of people create, fight for, and retain space, identity, and rights within American society through acts of daily life. This research considers how the ten large-scale charcoal drawings that comprise Stations contribute to the construction and representation of distinct and unique Latino spaces and identities. Valdez establishes space in the sense of belonging and community engagement that his work allows. Within this context, thoughtful attention is paid to the cultural meaning of the artist's subject choices of boxing and religion. This research considers the significance of these subject choices and how the connections between the two create unique spaces of shared experience and consciousness for a viewer of the work. However, the parallels that Valdez draws between the Christ figure and his boxer also allow for a careful examination of the representations and contradictions of contemporary constructions of masculinity that are present in the series. Within this project, the work of Gloria Anzaldúa is critical in understanding and discussing the fluid nature of Chicano identity. This study also considers how in the tradition of Chicana writers, Valdez expresses and affirms identity through autobiographical methods. Further, the artist's use of charcoal to create these large scale drawings is considered for its narrative qualities. This study concludes that Valdez's series Stations is an act of cultural citizenship.

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  • 2010

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Princesses in buckskin: interrogation of a stereotype

Description

The Indian princess began as an imposition, a Eurocentric conception based in preconceived notions of cultural structures and gendered power roles - a mixture of noble woman and provocative demure

The Indian princess began as an imposition, a Eurocentric conception based in preconceived notions of cultural structures and gendered power roles - a mixture of noble woman and provocative demure maiden - created by Anglo men to epitomize an idyllic image of otherness and womanhood. This analysis begins by exploring the history of the icon that was first conceived through sixteenth century explorer's tales of exotic queens then traces her progression through the romantic idealizations of the Indian woman Pocahontas. Research then explores how the character, comprised of a mixture of feathers, beads, and buckskin, was implemented into performance, and discusses how her flesh and blood enactment became critical to her survival. Drawing on the theories of contemporary critics, final examination turns to twentieth century perceptions of the Princess and reactions to her by contemporary Native artists whose manipulations of the character opens alternative dialogs about the stereotype to offer reconstructions of her historic discourse.

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  • 2011

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Art and effective altruism: case studies in sustainable practice

Description

Effective Altruism (EA), a moral philosophy concerned with accomplishing the greatest possible good in one’s lifetime, sees little utilitarian and/or humanitarian value in the arts. EA suggests that amidst so

Effective Altruism (EA), a moral philosophy concerned with accomplishing the greatest possible good in one’s lifetime, sees little utilitarian and/or humanitarian value in the arts. EA suggests that amidst so much global strife, the time, energy, and finances expended to create fleeting art would be put to better, more practical use in the fight against poverty. However, EA has yet to sufficiently account for sustainable art practice — an art form deeply rooted in utilitarianism and humanitarianism — and the possibility of its accompanying aesthetics as a constituent of utilitarian/humanitarian theories. The first chapter of this thesis illustrates an intersection of EA, sustainability, and aesthetics, detailing ways in which sustainable art and EA philosophy overlap, as well as problematizing EA’s dismissal of contemporary art practice. This chapter also points to sustainable art as one possible alternative art route for practicing artists with EA interests. Chapters two and three present case studies of Danish art collective SUPERFLEX and an American non-profit called the Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) and how their sustainable goals fit the utilitarian and humanitarian scope through which EA functions.

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  • 2017