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Heritage of Native Americans: Culture

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The theme of cultures in the art can be seen in many artworks throughout history. Whether the piece of art was made to depict cultural beliefs, the norms of a culture, or the views of culture, the theme of culture is important to show how art has evolved and also how cultures have evolved. Another way culture can pose a theme in art is the way in which a specific culture chooses to create their art, the mediums they use, and the elements that they include in their pieces.

The first culture that I want to address when speaking about art and the cultural influence on it as well as cultural depictions in art is Native American artwork. Native American art differs between each tribe but has individual characteristics that set it apart from other pieces of art. A lot of Native American artworks are things that were useful to the tribe or accessorize the way that they looked every day. The artworks all range from clothes to jewelry, to combat tools and useful everyday items. Their artworks display the way that they lived and the things that they found to be important and a necessity to them. Personally, I have always been fascinated by the mediums in which Native Americans made their clothes, bowls, and other items.

One item of native American artwork that I find the most fascinating is the clothing of the time. I will insert in the bottom of this paper some of the traditional Native American headdresses, clothing, and other items. All of these really interest me because of the composition of them. When I was younger I learned about how the Native Americans made their clothing and how they skinned animals fleshed them and tanned their hides. All of it is very innovative work for the time period and has a really big influence on what the clothes look like as to most of the clothes are tan with no other color than some painted on the designs.

The designs that are depicted on Native American works of art are all very colorful but at the same time are dull, which could one be because they have been found years after they were made or two Native Americans are unable to make that bright colors with the materials that they were able to get in that day and age. Either way, the designs are usually beautiful, sometimes have to do with nature and depict animals of plants or the sun and moon, and other times they have geometric-like designs. It is amazing to see the way that their culture, is heavily influenced by nature and nature; things influence that way that their artworks are created and the designs that are put on each piece.

The next thing I want to talk about in the way that culture is depicted in art, whether that be in modern art or even in art from hundreds of years ago. Modern art and art from a long time ago can both depict the view of certain cultures in that time period. If someone who is viewing the art has little to no understanding of the culture that is being shown the piece of art can maybe even look offensive when it really is not. The act can show us depictions of the culture at that time and give us a better understanding or it can confuse us even more if we have no underlying knowledge of the culture itself. Take for example the piece of art, Woman with a Gun, by Shirin Neshat. This piece of art is a black and white image of that looks to be an Islamic woman. This woman has words written in another language written all over her face. Held up in front of her face the woman has a gun pointing straight upward held right in the center of her face. If you had no understanding or prior knowledge of this culture this image would seem to be offensive to islamic women. It seems to almost be degrading at first glance and doesn’t really look like something someone would like to pose for.

Our lack of prior knowledge to this artwork screws our visions away from what the art is actually supposed to be and supposed to represent and almost makes us think the opposite. Instead of the piece of art being degrading to women of that country and religion it actually is an empowering picture. The words on the picture are actually empowering words that are in that country’s native language. This is an example of the ways art can show you the culture and you not even know that it is actually showing you a good thing about the culture rather than a bad thing. This work of art goes to show you that you really have to have background knowledge of the item you are viewing before you judge or make assumptions about it because you may not truly know what the piece of art is really about.

Another couple of pieces of art that I would like to talk about that do similar things as the one described above is Treaty Signing at Medicine Lodge Creek by Howling Wolf and Treaty Signing at Medicine Lodge Creek by John Taylor. Each of these artworks is a depiction of the exact same event in history. They both show the same exact thing but are shown from two different sides of the treaty signing. This was a very interesting thing to me because most of the time when you see events in history they are only shown from one side of the story and from one of the groups points of view and that makes these two artworks compared side by side very cool to see the ways the even was seen differently.

The first work of art is the Treaty Signing at Medicine Lodge Creek by Howling Wolf who was a native American on the native American side of the treaty signing. Howling Wolf was a member of the plains Indian tribe and he drew a picture of what he saw as the treaty signing that he was at when it happened. His artwork has a lot more depiction of the Indians, it is very simplistic and very two-dimensional. He drew all of the Native American teepees and all of the native Americans standing around in their little village. Up the paper diagonally Howling Wolf drew what looks like a stream and the teepees are drawn following up along the stream in the image. The white people are drawn in the background and in the image, there are only two white people compared to a lot of native American people. The white people look very boring, they are wearing only black and white and nice fancy clothes. The native American drawing is also done in color and all f the Indian’s houses and clothes are made of colorful colors and the white people’s things are still only in black and white. This shows how the Native American people of that time viewed white people and this is a depiction of the white people’s culture through the eyes of the native American people. It also shows how the culture of the native American people viewed this historical event.

The next drawing this the Treaty Signing at Medicine Lodge Creek, by John Taylor. This drawing is a depiction of the same thing as the drawing by Howling Wolf but this time instead by the white people’s perspective rather that the native American people’s perspective. This drawing is a lot more complex than the one done by Howling Wolf and is more three-dimensional in the way that it is done. The drawing shows a lot more people and a lot more white people than the one done by a howling wolf. Rather than how Howling Wolf has them all just kind of standing there the one by John Taylor has them all sitting around in a circle almost and it looks like they are having an important discussion. This is something that shows the different views of the event in the eyes of the white people’s culture rather than that of the native American people. It shows that they saw themselves in it more. It also shows that depiction of the native American culture through their view. Other than that view each of the pieces of art shows the way that each piece of art is made compared to the way that art is done in the culture and the cultural ways of art in of each piece’s culture. It is amazing looking at the two of these drawings and comparing them side by side.

The last piece of art I want to touch on that represents the culture of a group that is very familiar to everyone today is It Takes Every Kind of Person to Make the World Go Round by Hildos A. This painting is something that depicts a movement that is still going on today. It shows the movement of equal rights for everyone which isn’t as much of an issue going on today as it use to be but there are new movements that go along with this one. The new movement black is beautiful and black is strong is depicted in this image and shows that the world needs every kind of people and every kind of people matters. This is an amazing piece of art that is still going on with these movements. This painting is an abstract painting of a woman’s face, half of the woman’s face is white with blonde hair and bright-colored lips. This side of the face seems to be the standard of beauty for people all the time. The other side of the face is a brown face with an afro and this shows that both sides are beautiful. This shows the culture of the world today and the changes in the culture in the way beauty is viewed and the way that people view each other.

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Heritage of Native Americans: Culture. (2022, August 01). GradesFixer. Retrieved August 15, 2022, from
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