Contemporary Native American Art in Cultural and Historical Contexts


Fall 2015 quarter

Taught by

visual arts, creative writing, poetry

This program will examine the work of Indigenous artists in North America who have helped define the Contemporary Native American Art Movement since the 1960s and will trace the movement’s evolution through 2015. Beginning with an examination of works by seminal artists like Alan Houser, Oscar Howe, Fritz Scholder, and Helen Hardin, who transformed American Indian art, students will explore the way that these artists and the Indigenous artists who came after them became an innovative force that redefined the place of American Indian/First Nations artists in the global art world. We will analyze the way these various generations of artists have created movements in the Americas that have challenged anthropological and colonial paradigms that define aesthetically exquisite objects made by Indigenous peoples as artifacts to be studied in an ethnographic context rather than as works of fine art. We will look at the way the art/craft divide in European and American settler art discourse has affected the way Indigenous art has been defined. Through detailed analyses, students will critically reflect on not only the aesthetic principles inherent in Indigenous artwork, but also on the historical and cultural contexts which inform the artists of the Contemporary Native American Art Movement. Finally, students will learn how to look at, interpret, understand, and write about the works of contemporary Indigenous artists in the United States and Canada.

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

Native American art history, Indigenous art criticism, museum education, and curatorial studies with a special focus on institutions with Indigenous art collections or an interest in building collections in Contemporary Native American Art, Native American history, and cultural studies with a particular emphasis on preparing students to do graduate work. The program is also designed to serve the needs of emerging Indigenous artists who wish to gain an understanding of a number of the theories and paradigms that have shaped the work of Indigenous artists over the last 55 years.

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day


Buy books for this program through Greener Bookstore.

Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning: Access to web-based tools required, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.

Required Fees

$150 for an overnight field trip and entrance fees.


Date Revision
June 16th, 2015 Fees updated ($150).
June 15th, 2015 Frances Rains will offer Even When Erased, We Exist: Native American Women Standing Strong for Justice

Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Fall)

Class standing: Sophomore–Senior

Maximum enrollment: 25



No conditions

Course Reference Numbers

So - Sr (16 credits): 10185
So - Sr (1-16 credits): 10468

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