“Historically, books about contemporary Native and Indigenous art have often been composed of academic essays illustrated with artworks by Indigenous makers,” Jeffrey Gibson (previously) says in the introduction to An Indigenous Present. “The writing often references previously published texts that can be problematic and outmoded.” Released by DelMonico Books/Big NDN Press last month, the nearly 450-page volume renders solid a new paradigm of representation and visibility of Native North American art.
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Works by more than 60 artists comprise the monumental survey, exploring myriad practices focused on and intersecting contemporary art, music, filmmaking, choreography, architecture, writing, photography, design, and more. The tome highlights the remarkable diversity of media and cultural influences across the continent, from fashion artist Jamie Okuma’s intricately beaded designer boots to Dana Claxton’s elaborate Headdress portrait series to Northwest Coast artist and Chief Beau Dick’s expressive masks. Gibson continues:
For An Indigenous Present, I wanted to make a lavish picture book (“sexy” was a word I used a lot to describe this project) that invites an audience to consider the creative and conceptual spaces artists need to think freely, disrupt the flow, take chances, make mistakes, and even fail in the process of creating something new.
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