Monday, May 23, 2011

Sculpture and Indians

What could come after sculpture and feminism?

Sculpture and Indians.

Being a bronze Indian is hard work.

I had my "Bouquet for the City" sculpture at the Heathman Lodge for the American Rhododendron Society Convention. Walking back and forth from the parking lot I kept passing this lost soul.

(Background: The Heathman Lodge looks like a giant log cabin. Very "Western" looking.)

The bronze figure is well modeled, the siting is perfunctory. It's right near a noisy heating / cooling unit. I looked for a signature or a title but was unable to find one. Perhaps that's for the best.....

What does this figure represent?

A "western experience"? a hotel parking lot?

The Homeless is more like it. The white folk go inside while he stays outside in the rain.
I know a statue is inert matter, but its creation and intent are spirit and ideas, and those are very much alive.

The hotel vans idle, filling the area with exhaust.

While I love figurative work, I find most figurative bronze incredibly depressing. While the modeling may be skilled, there seems to be no thought behind the work.  

Art has the power to speak to us, to move us. Isn't it a pity when the content is empty cliche and status quo?

Wildlife is a valid sculpture genre.

Does this Indian fall into that category?
(Ducks and Bucks, Stags on craigs,
and a Noble Savage or two on the mantle or in the parking lot?

Is this Indian statue the corporate equivalent of a lawn jockey?

Is there a curse worse than to be romanticised?
Even in the art-afterlife this Indian has no real estate

Ignored by the hotel vans and guests, 
his prayers fall on deaf ears. 
"Oh Great Spirit, Deliver me from this waste-land!"


I don't have any answers, but I do have questions:

What do you think of artists appropriating First Nation/ethnic imagery?

Having marginalized aboriginal peoples, why do we value their images and art, especially if they didn't make that art?

Your Thoughts?


Cindy Michaud said...

Wow...what a lot to think about; I don't think I will ever again pass a "sculpture" and not think about its "siting." Thanks...that's all I can chew on now....tomorrow the romaniticized injuns.

Deb said...

It's all part of the big romantic picture- cut down the trees, pack away the indegenous people, then name our streets and towns after them. Or, in Edith Cavel's case, execute her for the treasonist act of providing medical care to both German and British soldiers, the name a mountain in the Canadian Rockies after her. Oops. Starting to rant.