Is It Native American Art?: Authenticity and Self-determination

Lara Evans, Art Historian, Art History Faculty, Institute of American Indian Arts

IARC Speaker Series, Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, Meem Auditorium

Thursday, March 28, 2013, 12:00–1:00 pm, Free

Lara EvansLara EvansCourtesy of Lara Evans

In the summer of 2012, the Southwest Association for Indian Arts hosted a lecture series on the topics of quality and authenticity. Speaker Series consultant Lara Evans presents the outcomes of these discussions and addresses the questions of who gets to decide what is “authentic,” and how Native self-determination plays into these issues.

This lecture is part of the 2013 Speaker Series of the Indian Arts Research Center at the School for Advanced Research. The series, titled Ethics, Aesthetics, and Preservation of the Arts, is geared toward individuals and institutions interested in collecting and working with cultural materials. Speakers will delve into the various legal and ethical issues surrounding art collecting and preservation, and offer some best-practice guidelines.

Lara Evans (Cherokee) is a professor of art history at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, for the academic year 2012-13. She is also a member of the faculty at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. She received a PhD in art history from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque in 2005, with a specialization in contemporary Native American art. Lara has a studio arts background and although she is a painter, she has learned techniques in many media, including ceramics, basketry, beadwork, woodworking, and glassmaking.

Evans’s recent publications include Art in our Lives: Native Women Artists in Dialogue, published by the School for Advanced Research in 2010, and a chapter in Action and Agency: Advancing the Dialogue in Native Performance Art, published by the Denver Art Museum, also in 2010. In 2011, Evans contributed two short essays to Manifestations: New Native Art Criticism, published by the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, Santa Fe. During the summer of 2012, she worked on a small research project on the subject of “quality” in Native American art in conjunction with a series of talks associated with the annual Indian Market. Even though a large portion of her efforts goes into scholarship about Native American art, she finds her own artistic practice provides insight and acts as a testing ground for ideas.

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