Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Photos of the July 2013 Festival of Native Peoples

Here's a link to a great set of photos from the July 2013 Festival of Native Peoples (I did not take these photos; but the one on the left is mine).  The photos show several of the groups that performed dances in Cherokee, NC from all over North America and Mexico (the Hawaiian group is based in Virginia).  The costumes are incredibly beautiful (especially the Aztec dancers!), as well as some of the musical instruments like the drums in the photo at left (in the photo the man on the left is Andy Everson, Northwest Coast artist and graphic designer– check out his great art at www.andyeverson.com).

Below is a video of the Raven Gwawena Dance, performed by the Le-La-La Dancers of Northern Vancouver Island.  They are a traditional Kwakwaka'wakw (pronounced kwa kwa key wok) dance company that has shared their culture by entertaining and educating throughout the world for over 25 years under the direction of George Me'las Taylor (he is on the right in the photo above).

Monday, July 22, 2013

Art as Culture: Chapter 5 Review

Timkat, the Ethiopian Orthodox celebration of the Epiphany

Today's post is my summary and review of of Chapter Five of Art as Culture: An Introduction to the Anthropology of Art by Evelyn Payne Hatcher.  Chapter Five's title is "Why? Social Contexts and Social Functions," and examines three theories that attempt to explain how art helps hold societies together (i.e., its "social function").  Hatcher does this by exploring the type of situations in which visual art forms are utilized by indigenous cultures, and the reasons why.

Here's a basic outline of the chapter:

How Does Art Help Hold Society Together? There are Three Primary Theories:
     I. Art as a psychological means to social ends: Art functions as a safety release valve for negative emotions or excess energy. 
     II. Art as social setting: By providing aesthetic pleasure to large groups during gatherings, art helps to reinforce a sense of community or communitas. 
     III. Art as a symbol of society: Art can reflect and reinforce proper social relationships, through the use of collective cultural symbols.

Dot-painting tips for tourists draws MP's ire

Picture: Steve Strike.  Source: The Australian

The following news story from Australia is a warning for Christian workers and others about the divisions that can result when utilizing indigenous sacred art forms.  There were no Christian workers involved in this case, but it shows that participation in indigenous art forms by non-natives can sometimes create animosity among indigenous groups.  So, always be careful and preferably come alongside local believers when exploring the use of sacred art forms.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Jacob's Ladder

I just read Genesis 28:10-22 this morning, and was reminded of a bowl I once painted.  It depicts v. 11-13a:

And [Jacob] came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the Lord stood above it...

My image is painted in a Southwestern Acoma/Mimbres-inspired style.  Mimbres pottery was the first nonwestern art style that I experimented with when I first began painting contextual images.  I think I also had in mind the idea of a Pueblo Kiva, with their ladders ascending to the outside of the room.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Raven Icon

Raven Icon ©1998 by Bill Hudson
12" x 16" Acrylic and gold leaf on panel

The icon painting above was created by Bill Hudson for the Alaska Folk Festival's 20th annual festival.  He writes that had originally proposed "for the 20th anniversary, a Russian Orthodox style icon of the Mother Mary playing a Russian balalaika," but festival board members felt that might be too offensive to some viewers.  So he came back with this Raven icon.  He writes, "Although Raven is well known among Alaskan Natives as the Creator of the World — which in my mind certainly ranks him up there with the Mother Mary — no one complained that the new design was religiously offensive."

So the image isn't intended to be a religious icon, but rather to represent the Russian orthodox and Native American communities of Alaska collectively.  But it got me to thinking, what would it look like to combine the icon format with Northwest Coast art style to produce biblical depictions of Christ, saints, stories, etc.?  Hmmmmm...

Thursday, July 11, 2013

An Interview on Contextualizing Ecclesiology

A traditional Kazakh rug.  Photo by Mark Heard.

I found this interview over at 9Marks Blog.  9Marks is a ministry dedicated to equipping church leaders with a biblical vision and practical resources.  The interview is with Ed Roberts, a church planter in Central Asia for nearly twenty years.  Ed discusses the importance of contextualization in his (and all Christian workers') ministry and gives a list of five suggestions for good cross-cultural contextualization.  I found the first suggestion to be especially insightful:

Realize that our goal in contextualizing should always be to clarify the gospel and biblical doctrine. Our goal must not be to make others comfortable with Christianity or the Bible. It’s not to minimize persecution by minimizing the offense of the cross. And we do not want to confuse our culture with the gospel. We do not proclaim ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord (2 Cor. 4:1-6).

Check out the link above to read the rest of the interview.

Monday, July 8, 2013

2013 Festival of Native Peoples and Cherokee Indian Art Market

Coming up this weekend (7/12-7/13) in Cherokee, NC is the 2013 Festival of Native Peoples and Cherokee Indian Art Market.  It is the "finest showcase of native dance, art, and culture in the southeast. Indigenous tribes from across the Americas gather for the Festival of Native Peoples... the event honors the collective history, customs and wisdom of some of the oldest documented tribes."

Some of this year's performing groups include the Totonac pole flyers of Mexico who gracefully unfurl from the top of a ninety-foot pole while attached to ropes; the White Mountain Apache Crown Dancers of Arizona; the Halau Ho'omau I ka Wai Ola O' Hawai'i hula dancers based at Hope United Church in Alexandria, Virginia; and Cherokee's own Warriors of AniKituhwa.

The festival will also play host to one of the southeast’s largest Native American art markets. The Cherokee Indian Art Market will feature over fifty nationally recognized, juried craftspeople and artisans from around the country displaying and selling their handmade traditional and contemporary works of art ranging in price from $10 to tens of thousands of dollars. Artists will also demonstrate techniques passed down from generation to generation.

Adult admission to the festival is $10.  To see a detailed performance schedule for both days, click the image at the top of this page.  Below is montage video of the dance groups from 2009:

Yesterday was Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday in Austraila

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday fell on July 7th (sorry about the ond day delay in posting this!) and brings together the entire Catholic Community to celebrate the gifts that Australia's first peoples bring to the Church in Australia.  It is an event sponsored by National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC), an organization which seeks to act "as an avenue that helps Aboriginal and Torres Strait people to have a voice in the Catholic Church in Australia."  Printed online resources for this Sunday's observances can be downloaded here.  For a description of the organization's logo (left), click here.