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Art Terms

Aesthetics. The philosophy or scholarly study of beauty

Appropriation. In art, the incorporation of borrowed elements (e.g. from pop culture or art history) into a new work; quoting another artist's work in a new art work. Cultural appropriation or misappropriation is a negative term for the borrowing of one's culture's expression by another culture, especially if the expression is not understood or stripped of its cultural context

Artist Hopid. A Hopi artist collective from 1973 to 1978. Members included Michael Kabotie (Lomawywesa), Terrance Talaswaima (Honvantewa), Neil David, Milland Lomakema (Dawakema) and Delbridge Honanie (Coochsiwukiomao)

Bacone School. A mid-20th century intertribal art movement of painting, drawing, and printmaking influenced by Plains hide painting, ledger art, and Art Deco, named from Bacone College in Muscogee, Oklahoma

Bambi Art. Derogatory term for Flatstyle art, including the Studio Style, Bacone School, and Southern Plains style art movements, due to the frequent depictions of blue deer, a Huichol conception of peyote, and Walt Disney's appropriation of Pop Chalee's portrayals of deer

Conceptual Art. Visual art in which the concept or idea is more important than executive of the work or its the aesthetics, techniques, or materials. The work is preplanned.

Contemporary Art. Art produced since World War II, 21st century art, or work by living artists. Example: Shinnecock people make wampum in the 21st century, so that is contemporary art.

Cultural Patrimony. An artifact or object which has a lasting historical, traditional, or cultural significance to a tribe or cultural group, as opposed to an object belonging to a single individual. The ownership of such an object by the tribe or cultural group is considered inalienable.

Cusco School. Also known as Cuzco School. A baroque, Mannerist style of Roman Catholic devotional painting among Quechua, Aymara, mestizo, and other Andean peoples. Originating in 1534 colonial Cusco, Peru, the style spred to Bolivia and Ecuador and continued into the 18th century.

Deconstruction. The act of breaking down a concept, text, or entity to its most basic element to understand the underlining, unspoken assumptions or frames upon which it is founded. This analytical approach to criticism was pioneered by Jacques Derrida.

Effigy. A representation, especially sculpted, that be anthropomorphic (of humans), anthropomorphic (of animals), or phytomorphic (of plants).

Flatstyle. Representational, narrative painting styles characterized by solid color fields, minimal backgrounds, and little shading or perspective. Flatstyle includes the San Ildefonso painting movement, Studio Style, Bacone School, and Southern Plains painting movements of the early to mid-20th century.

Intellectual Property. Knowledge, creative ideas, or any expression of the human mind, such as inventions, medicinal formulae, designs, and works of art, which might have commercial value and can be protected by laws.

Intertribal. 1 involving multiple tribes who maintain their distinctions. 2 a social dance at powwows

Inuksuk (plural: Inuksuit). A single stone or piles of stone or cairns made by Arctic peoples in Alaska, Canada, and Greenland, as landmarks or guides in traveling or caribou herding.

Iroquois Realist School. An art movement created by the Tuscarora brothers David and Dennis Cusick in the 1820s. Through painting, drawing, and printmaking, artists creates representational works documenting Iroquois beliefs, lifeways, fashion, and history. About 25 artists continued this style throughout the 19th century.


Jacka. Also jackal or jocla. Double loops of heishi, flat disc beads, typically of turquoise, typically used as earrings or pendants. Derives from a Navajo term for “ear string.”

Kiowa Six. Also known as the Kiowa Five, group of Kiowa artists, Spencer Asah, James Auchiah, Jack Hokeah, Stephen Mopope, Lois Smoky, and Monroe Tsatoke.who studied together at St. Patrick's Mission School and the University of Oklahoma. The five men exhibited in First International Art Exposition in Prague, Czechoslovakia in 1928 and the Venice Biennale in 1932.

Ledger Art. Plains narrative painting or drawing, based on Plains hide painting, but on paper or cloth surfaces. Ledger art thrived from the 1860s to 1920s, was revived in the 1960s, and has experienced a major revival in the 2010s.

Modern Art. Art from the Modern Era (approximately 1860s–1960s), influenced by changes in Western society, "art for art's sake," an ideal of universal expression, and originality.

NAGPRA (Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act). A US federal law, passed in 1990, that requires federal agencies and institutions receiving federal funds to share their inventories with tribes and repatriate human remains to lineal descendants, as well as funerary items, sacred objects, and other items of cultural patrimony.

Native American Fine Arts Movement. A term for 20th-century flatstyle easel painting that accepts Western concepts of "fine art."

Pictrograph. An image painted onto a rock face.

Petroglyph. An image carved, scratched, or otherwise incised into a rock face.

Pan-Indian. A US term for concepts, movements, etc. that cross tribal lines. Powwows and Native American Church are major pan-Indian cultural expressions.

Postmodern Art. Arts, including architecture and literary arts, after the Modern Era, which rejects a "global cultural narrative."  Arts can reflect pluralistic viewpoints and often feature appropriation, or reuse, of earlier art forms and popular culture. Discontinuity is common, reflecting post-modern society.

Quillwork. Textile art, unique to North America, that uses porcupine or bird quills to embellish hide, cloth, or wood.

Repatriation. In regards to art or cultural items, physically returning these items to the tribe or cultural group that created them or the lineal descendants of that group.

San Ildefonso Painting Movement. Flatstyle painting movement, inspired by Pueblo pottery and mural painting traditions, thrived from 1910–1932, and included Pueblo artists such as Crescencio Martinez, Julian Martinez, Alfredo Montoya, Tonita Peña, Alfonso Roybal, and Abel Sanchez.

Woodlands School. Also known as Woodlands style, is a Anishinaabe painting movement founded by Norval Morrisseau (Sand Point Ojibway). Woodlands art is highly visionary, characterized by X-ray views, black outlines, and bold primary colors, and is influenced by Anishinaabe birch bark scrolls and petroglyphs.

© 2013 First American Art.

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