Native American Art

Native American Art

Native American art is an aspect of Native American culture that has held people enthralled all over the world. From art critics to ordinary people, everyone who has ever seen Native American art has been held spellbound by its beauty and sense of mystery. With simple materials, artisans have created the most extraordinary works of art.

Native American art is not just about aesthetic beauty; it also conveys the history and traditions of the Native American people. Today it is rare to find authentic Native American art outside a museum or a Native American art gallery. While its popularity has caused it to be duplicated and mass-produced, original Native American art is something that is still rare to find.

Traditional and Contemporary Art

Native American art is broadly divided into five branches, namely East, Northwest coast, Southwest, Arctic and Plains. These branches represent the region from which the art forms have originated and are important, as location plays a very important role in Native American art. For example, while native art from the Arctic might use whalebone in their art, coastal native art might use shells.

Native American art incorporates a wide range of materials which occur naturally in the environment. These include wood, bone, stone, animal skin and feathers. Using techniques such as carving, painting, sewing or weaving, the Native Americans created many works of art, including intricately woven blankets, totem poles, woven baskets and jewelry. Some of these pieces were used in rituals while others were used as traditional pieces which were handed down to younger generations. Still others were ordinary household items.

With the advent of European cultures, as their way of life changed, Native American art also changed. Today, many contemporary Native American artists employ modern painting techniques, photography and even performance arts in their work. Others still use traditional methods of Native American art, thus expanding the reach of Native American art to include the past, present and the future.