The maintenance of traditional methods and symbolism in southwestern Native American art
Harrison, Steven Joseph
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This dissertation is a study of contributing factors to the maintenance of traditional methods and symbolism in the production of Native American artwork in the Southwest United States. Interviews were conducted with Navajo and Hopi artists, as well as with traders/art dealers, to collect data for analysis of why and how Native American artists continue to produce art by methods and utilizing traditional materials and symbolism dating back centuries, in some cases. The research questions for this study were: 1.) What are the attributes of art versus craft in the Native American culture of the Southwest? 2.) How and by whom are they taught traditional methods and symbolism? and, 3.) How does commercialism affect their art? Interview questions were designed to elicit information about how art making techniques are passed from generation to generation, how art is assessed and valued, what threatens the production of traditional art, and how mentorship by artists and traders influences art production. The commercial aspects of collecting are also explored.