Collecting art of other cultures

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    K. Johnson

    Is it looked down upon by others – especially by other races/creeds – when art is collected and appreciated by one who is not of that culture?

    User Detail :  

    Name : K. Johnson, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Age : 30, City : Columbus, State : OH Country : United States, Social class : Middle class, 


    I know many native communities like the Pueblo peoples and the communites of the Pacific Northwest coast depend on outsiders buying their arts and crafts. They’ve been using their art to promote understanding and appreciation of their cultures for centuries. What just about all native people (and probably other groups) don’t care for are:

    1)Inferior and counterfeit knockoffs of their cultural crafts. Always look for an ‘Indian-Made’ label and the tribal ID number of the artist. Also, make sure the ‘Indian’ is not referring to sweatshop workers in India. (I’m serious, some less scrupulous dealers do this.)
    2)’Art’ that promotes a sterotypical view of native people, everything from reproductions of the famous Charles Curtis photos (which usually were staged photos using clothing borrowed from museums to make natives look more ‘primitive’), to a lot of ridiculously cornball romanticized New Age and Old West-style art, to the trashy and deeply offensive things like cigar store ‘Indians’ and sports mascot memorabilia.
    3)Things like sand paintings, kokopellis, totem poles, medicine pouches and ‘tribal’ tattoos. These all have sacred meaning in native beliefs and are being bought, sold and used in a casual, frivolous and disrespectful way.
    4)’Art’ that misrepresents itself as something it is not. For example, ‘dream catchers’ actually were crab catchers until a white businessman got the idea of adding feathers to them and selling them to tourists and making up a phony legend to go along with them. A lot of New Age people also sell ‘shamanic crafts,’ pseudo-native items for use in pseudo-native ‘ceremonies.’

    But if you use the art to learn, and learn respect for the people you got it from, then go right ahead. If you do it because of some insulting notion that we are ‘exotic’ or ‘foreign’ to you, frankly you still don’t understand what is right in front of you, not the art or the artists.

    User Detail :  

    Name : ACC24045, Race : Mexican and American Indian, City : W Lafayette, State : IN Country : United States, 


    I’d say ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ I say ‘yes’ because I have often turned my nose up at white people who collect those ‘tar babies’ because it’s almost like they are making fun of how important the black woman was to many white households during the 1800s in the South. It’s also an issue of ‘hoarding’ antiques and relics of another culture so that they may not enjoy them; or, making the price to own such collectibles so high that many black people can’t afford to display them in their homes. Then again, I myself would like to begin collecting things from other cultures and countries. I want to do this because I have a very eclectic taste and think incorporating many collectibles from different eras and cultures would enligten my senses. So, I guess I would like an answer to your question, too!

    User Detail :  

    Name : Nicole, Gender : F, Race : black and white, Age : 24, City : Virginia Beach, State : VA Country : United States, 


    Nicole, I don’t think turning your nose up at white people who collect ‘mammy’ and ‘tar baby’-style stuff is the same as looking down on people who collect art that is not from their culture. That stuff isn’t African-American art, it’s European American ‘art,’ for lack of a better word, about African Americans, or rather their ideas about African Americans. It’s not appreciating someone else’s culture, it’s wallowing in the lower aspects of their own culture. I think the original question is more like, would you have a problem with white people or Asian people, etc. collecting contemporary African-American painters, or black American folk art, or for that matter being major rap fans. I think art is for reaching people, and if people respond to art from another culture, there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as they are respectful of the original context and intent.

    User Detail :  

    Name : Dara, Gender : F, City : San Francisco, State : CA Country : United States, 


    I’ve always wondered how Greeks and Egyptians feel about their ancient artifacts and artwork being transported all over the world. Someone in New York can see a pot dipicting the Olympic Games or Heiroglyphs, but people in Athens or Cairo cannot.

    User Detail :  

    Name : Jahny, City : Chestnut Ridge, State : NY Country : United States, 
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