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 About the Art

Native American art is truly one of America's great art forms. Pottery, in particular, could be considered America's first great art form since it was here that objects which were once utilitarian began to evolve into something decorative. Eventually pottery was produced as a thing of beauty only, not meant to be used, but simply meant to be enjoyed.

Other Native crafts soon followed suit; take the evolution of Hopi kachina carvings for example. Over time these carvings have become exquisite products of refined abilities and talented hands. Consider the skill required of a master-carver who creates a figure entirely out of a single piece of lightweight cottonwood. It doesn't leave much room for mistake, and each is an original work of art: one-of-a-kind!

Woven baskets and rugs are another great example of utilitarian goods that have evolved over time but that also retain some of their own intrinsic beauty. People often ask why great Hopi baskets are so hard to come by, and the answer is simple. They are still prized by the people who make them. Hopi baskets are used as a form of payment when families exchange services for important ceremonies, such as marriages, etc. They are also coveted symbols of "victory" at traditional Hopi basket dances. Perhaps nothing is more impressive than observing dozens of Hopi women standing in a circle in the plaza - holding their cherished coil plaques as they sing and dance throughout the ceremony.

Indian blankets, or "rugs," were first called "Chief's Blankets" in the Southwest because they were so valuable that only the Chief of the tribe or village could afford to own one. Traders influenced the development of designs in the 19th century by introducing weavers to beautiful Persian weavings. The weavers were inspired and innovated the designs we are familiar with today - Teec Nos Pos, Burntwater, Klagetoh, Two Grey Hills, and many others. Some weavers still hand card, hand spin, and naturally dye their wool - which adds many long hours to the production process, not to mention the incredible knowledge and skill also required.

Native American art is one of America's greatest art forms in every sense of the word. Perhaps what makes it unique among other great art forms of the world is its accessibility. While most of us will never own a Renoir or Van Gogh, there are American originals (Native American originals) within our reach. Whether you appreciate the charm and beauty of a small seed pot with all its history and tradition, or the more elaborate and bold appearance of a masterfully carved kachina doll, the opportunity to be a part of this truly great and first American art form is there to be had.

Over the years, Native American art as an art form has also evolved. It has emerged from the margins having made the transition from something that was once considered a craft to something more widely recognized as fine art. The time is long overdue, but the legacy remains the same. Finally it has received the recognition it deserves and is experiencing the same kind of appreciation as other types of investment-grade artwork from all around the globe.

We are proud to be a part of a growing effort to preserve and promote this rich cultural heritage, and we're pleased to present selections of some of the very finest Indigenous art the American Southwest has to offer.

 

About Us

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Visit these websites for more information on preserving
the integrity of Indigenous arts:

Indian Arts and Crafts Association  (I.A.C.A.)

Southwestern Association for Indian Arts  (S.W.A.I.A.)

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