Native American Art History in the 21st Century: In Theory, In Practice

W. Jackson Rushing, III, Ph.D., Professor of Art History, University of Oklahoma

IARC Speaker Series, SAR Boardroom

Friday, February 5, 2010, 5:30–6:30 pm

W. Jackson Rushing, III, Ph.D.W. Jackson Rushing, III, Ph.D.Speaker Series: Native American Art History in the 21st Century: In Theory, In PracticeW. Jackson Rushing, III, Ph.D.Speaker Series: Native American Art History in the 21st Century: In Theory, In Practice

This lecture reviews the 20th-century foundations, theoretical and methodological, for Native American art history in the 21st century. Diagnostic rather than prescriptive or predictive, it is guided and framed by a series of questions, including what are the objects and goals of such a history? How have the interventions of Native artist practice in recent decades forced a reconsideration of the discipline? What is the meaning of the following paradox: Native American art history is (not) different?

W. Jackson Rushing III is Adkins Presidential Professor of Art History and Mary Lou Milner Carver Chair in Native American Art at the University of Oklahoma. He was educated at the University of Texas at Austin and served previously as Associate Dean for Graduate Studies in Arts and Humanities at UT-Dallas. He works in several intersecting areas: Native American art; modern and contemporary art; Southwest modernism; theory, criticism, and methodology; museum studies; and post-colonialism and visual culture. His teaching and scholarship explore the interstitial zone between (Native) American studies, anthropology, and art history. For more than twenty years now, he has pursued a duality—Native-inspired modernist primitivism and indigenous modernism in the United States and Canada.

Modern By Tradition (1995)Modern By Tradition (1995)Bruce Bernstein and W. Jackson Rushing. 1995, Museum of New Mexico Press, 85 pp., ISBN 978-0890132913.Modern By Tradition (1995)Bruce Bernstein and W. Jackson Rushing. 1995, Museum of New Mexico Press, 85 pp., ISBN 978-0890132913. Listen to W. Jackson Rushing III’s Presentation on “Native American Art History in the 21st Century”
QuickTime Player required.


Dr. Rushing is a former fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Howard Foundation at Brown University, the Museum of New Mexico Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He is the author of Native American Art and the New York Avant-Garde (1995), Teresa Marshall: A Bed to the Bones (1998), and Allan Houser: An American Master (2004); editor of Native American Art in the Twentieth Century (1999) and After the Storm (2001); and co-author of Modern By Tradition (1995), which received The Southwest Book Award. His essays and art criticism have been published in American Craft, American Indian Magazine (Smithsonian), American Indian Art Magazine, Art Journal, Art on Paper, Flash Art, New Art Examiner, Sculpture, and Third Text.

From 1995 to 1997, he was Vice President of the Native American Art Studies Association, and in 1996 he was Interim Director of Gallery 210 at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, where he curated the exhibition “Native Paper.” Dr. Rushing has lectured widely in Canada, the U.S., and the U.K. and been a Director of the College Art Association of America.

Reading List

Berlo, Janet, ed. The Early Years of Native American Art History. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1992.

Blomberg, Nancy, ed. [Re]inventing the Wheel: Advancing the Dialogue on Contemporary American Indian Art. Denver: Denver Art Museum, 2008.

Coe, Ralph T. The Responsive Eye: Ralph T. Coe and the Collecting of American Indian Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2003.

Douglas, Frederic H. and René d’Harnoncourt. Indian Art of the United States. New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1941.

Durham, Jimmie and Richard Hill. The American West. Warwickshire: Compton Verney, 2005.

Hiller, Susan. “Sacred Circles.” Studio International (December 1978); reprinted in idem, The Provisional Texture of Reality: Selected Talks and Texts, 1977–2007, ed. Alexandra M. Kokoli. Zurich: JRP/Ringier and Dijon: Les Presses du reel, 2008.

Goldwater, Robert. “Judgments of Primitive Art” and “Art History and Anthropology: Some Comparisons of Methodology,” in idem, Primitivism in Modern Art. Cambridge: Harvard University Press (revised edition), 1986.

Monthan, Guy and Doris Monthan. Art and Indian Individualists: The Art of Seventeen Contemporary Artists and Craftsmen. Flagstaff: Northland Press, 1975.

Onians, John. “Art history, kunstgeschichte and historia.” Art History I (June 1978): 131-33.

Rushing, W. Jackson. Native American Art and the New York Avant-Garde. Austin: The University of Texas Press, 1995.

“Native American Subjects: Photography, Narrative, Local History,” Artspace 15 (November–December 1990): 60-63.

“Manifest Sovereignty: ‘Diversity and Dialogue’ at the Eiteljorg Museum,” American Indian Art Magazine 23 (Summer 2008): 78-88.

Follow us: