Customary Art 101
Gain a new perspective of Native American Customary art through beautiful and diverse artworks from Indigenous cultures from across North America.
What is it: While the Native American galleries undergo construction, before opening with a reimagined installation in late Spring 2022, we invite you to explore selections from our Native American customary art collection. The collection encompasses diverse materials and techniques, and showcases the gifted imaginations of Native artists.
What is Customary Native American Art?
Customary Native American art is work originating from an artist’s cultural customs. Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the work made by Native American artists encompassed all aspects of life and was not defined by labels. Since the colonization of North America, the art created by Native artists has been called “craft” or “traditional” by non-Native people. Colonizers projected their own values on Native art, and did not consider quillwork, basketry, and pottery — artwork made mostly by women – as fine art. Art made by the Indigenous peoples of the Americas, Africa, and Oceania was incorrectly labeled “primitive”, and collected by natural history and anthropological museums reinforcing the colonizers’ idea of what is authentic and traditional for Indigenous artists.
Traditions across cultures are constantly evolving to incorporate new ideas, materials, and techniques. This is the foundation of personal growth. Many museums are changing how they exhibit Native art and no longer want to present customary artwork using incorrect and offensive definitions of primitive tradition or craft. The Eiteljorg is one such institution that is working to transform the public understanding of Native American art. Native Art is, and always has been, dynamic, innovative, and diverse. It is worthy of a new perspective.
NOUN: 1. A combination of qualities, such as shape, color, or form
that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight. (Oxford English Dictionary)
A Sense of Beauty
As a part of the museum’s 30th anniversary celebration, you (and everyone else you know) are invited to create artwork inspired by the theme, Beauty. Artwork will be on display in conjunction with the exhibition, A Sense of Beauty, which opens March 9. So get out your paints, pencils, tablets or whatever medium you choose and create some art! (Public artwork will be hung within ten days of receipt after March 9, 2019 and be on display through August 4, 2019.)
Criteria: artwork must be original and inspired by the theme Beauty
2-D only; 4” x 4” size (unframed)
a signed consent form must accompany the entry
Send your entry to:
Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art
500 West Washington Street
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204-270
Please download the consent form by clicking here, fill it out and include it with your submission.