Speaking Truth in 20th- and 21st-Century Indigenous Arts: Legacy, Defiance, and Agency

Winter 2018
Credits per quarter

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Taught by

Alex McCarty
3D studio art

Across the millennia, Indigenous Peoples have always had means of expressing their lives through art.  As recently as the 20th century, Western cultures have viewed Indigenous artwork through a framework of colonizing artistic standards. These standards often ignored, misrepresented, misinterpreted, and sometimes denigrated the artworks of Native Peoples. This is a one-quarter introductory program emphasizing studio practice in 3D sculpture, visual literacy, Indigenous frameworks honoring continuity of cultural traditions, and Native agency against a backdrop of ongoing colonization.

This program is designed to be an engaging learning experience for all who wish to be involved in artistic practice, while critically examining some of the colonizing aspects of North American/Native history, anthropology, and the tourist industry. Students will explore Woodcarving, Northwest Native design, and Indigenous Art Appreciation with a Decolonizing lens through weekly studio, lectures, films, readings by Indigenous writers, project reviews, group critique, student-led seminars, guest speakers, and a field trip to the Burke Museum. Students will demonstrate learning through reflective writing, seminar response papers, a final synthesis paper, and submit a final portfolio of their studio work. Students must be prepared to dedicate at least 40 hours per week on program activities including studio work. Program themes will focus on contemporary Indigenous issues including aesthetic, intellectual, and political sovereignty.

This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in: Native American studies, art history, museums, education, and visual and studio arts.

Online learning:
  • Enhanced Online Learning - This offering requires access to web-based tools, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.
Special expenses:

Students can expect up to $150 for wood carving materials per quarter. Costs may vary depending on the scale of individual student projects.


$80 for museum entrance fees and a drawing kit.

Scheduled for: Day

Located in: Olympia

2017-11-21Description has been updated.
2017-11-20This program is now winter-only.
2017-11-20Frances Rains has left the teaching team. Enrollment has been reduced.
2017-05-05Description and fees updated.