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Art Case

Essay by   •  January 23, 2014  •  Essay  •  1,122 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,012 Views

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Native Americans have a generous and diverse history of art. Despite the vicious history of the treatment of Native peoples in the United States, established art forms such as pottery, weaving, dance, and jewelry-making have withstood. Modern artists are continuing cultural traditions in addition to developing their art in the present day.

Navajo women wove lovely blankets articulating warmth, earth colors, and exceptional designs. These designs often portrayed earth-like patterns, illustrations of Navajo spiritual meaning, or certain qualities that traders felt would please non-native trades. Navajo came to the southwest with their own weaving traditions; however, they learned to weave cotton on upright looms from Pueblo peoples (Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.). The materials of the Navajo signified both the intense artistic imagination of the weavers, and a significant source of economic sustainability. Today, the superiority of Navajo rugs and weavings continues to be acknowledged. The initial purpose of Navajo weaving was to fabricate clothing. The Navajo did not make rugs until trade markets expanded at the end of the 19th century, and their materials served no particular spiritual or ceremonial function.

Jewelry is another example of the artistic strengths of the Navajo people. Silversmithing dates back to the 1800s when Navajo artists began melting silver coins to make jewelry (United Nations). A silversmith is a craftsman who crafts objects from silver or gold. The terms "silversmith" and "goldsmith" are not exactly synonyms as the techniques, training, history, and guilds are or were largely the same but the end product may vary greatly as may the scale of objects created. However, most goldsmiths have always also worked in silver although the reverse may not be the case (Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.). The Navajo's hallmark jewelry piece called the "squash blossom" necklace first appeared in the 1880s. The term "squash blossom" was apparently attached to the name of the Navajo necklace at an early date, although its bud-shaped beads are thought to derive from Spanish-Mexican pomegranate designs (Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.). Navajo smiths then started adding sizeable portions of stones, typically turquoise, to the silver in exceptional designs. Turquoise has played a roll in jewelry for centuries, but Navajo silversmiths did not use inlay techniques to insert turquoise into silver designs until the late 19th century. Over time, they created tools and techniques to imprint or inscribe the metal. Today, Navajo jewelry is recognized and highly appreciated by both Native and non-Native Americans. It continues to be a characteristic attribute of Navajo history and culture.

Traditional sand painting, considered a sacred art, is one more significant aspect of Navajo art and culture. Sand painting is the art of pouring colored sands, powdered pigments from minerals or crystals, and pigments from other natural or synthetic sources onto a surface to make a fixed or unfixed sand painting. Unfixed sand paintings have a long established cultural history in numerous social groupings around the globe, and are often temporary, ritual paintings prepared for religious or healing ceremonies. It is also referred to as dry painting (Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.). Sand painting signifies a blessed process as well as a picturesque end result. It involves the artist, slowly discharging colored sand through his or her fingers to form designs that express a spiritual narrative. The creation of the art is part of the therapeutic practice. The colors for the painting are typically

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