Shared Ideologies
The activism and ideologies of the Red Power Movement significantly impacted the creation of Native American art. This shared ideology, rooted in AIM’s discourse of resistance, persistence and tradition, encouraged Native American artists to employ their artistic expertise across multiple genres to challenge the dominant society’s erasure of indigenous history and to promote tribal sovereignty.

(Image right: Tommy Orange meeting with students from the Native Sovereignty seminar at the Muscarelle Museum of Art, January 2020.)

In 1975, a Native-center art school was founded in Santa Fe, New Mexico, as the Institute of American Indian Arts or the IAIA. Responding to the political activism emerging among aspiring Native American and Alaska Native artists, the IAIA’s robust curriculum in contemporary and traditional forms of artistic practice, included graphic design, media arts, indigenous studies, museum studies and creative writing. IAIA graduate, Tommy Orange, author of There There, visited campus in January 2020. His award-winning book draws upon the Occupation of Alcatraz and the urban Indian experience.
Today, the artwork produced by IAIA’s faculty and students continues to reflect the shared ideology of political, economic, environmental and spiritual concerns of tribal communities. Importantly, the shift in artistic practice from pre-Red Power Movement days to the present has impacted collecting by individuals and museums. In 1996, IAIA opened the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in downtown Santa Fe. This space serves to promote the work of former and current students, working at the intersection of tradition and Native agency.
The twelve selected works shown below are from the collection of the Muscarelle Museum of Art. Nine of the works are by Native artists; two are by Andy Warhol and one by the late portraitist Kitti von Kann. Four of the works are by women artists. Importantly, each of these twelve artworks is a response to personal memory, a community tradition or reference to indigenous history. They challenge our expectations of Native art and force us to reconsider our understanding of Native history.