Thursday, October 23, 2008

"Love" (In the Style of Oscar Howe)

Medium(s): Acrylic
March 9, 2007

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High School -Senior Project- the last and final addition to my senior project portfolio. This composition, the first of its kind in my portfolio using acrylic paint, is based on the inspiration of Yanktonai-Dakota artist Oscar Howe, a very popular historic artist and professor of the University of South Dakota, is considered the first modern Native American painter. His style of geometric shapes (but not considered cubism) to portray traditional Siouan culture, his artwork became widespread and well known.
"He became known as one of the few artists that emerged in and defined the Native American Arts Movement between the 1940's and 1960's. This movement saw the emergence of a professional Indian Arts community dedicated to expressing Indigenous values as a vital part of 20th century culture.
On another level, Oscar Howe's importance exists free from the context of his time and his Native heritage, to be judged solely as art. Based as Howe was in his heritage, he ultimately saw his art in universal terms as expressions of fundamental human responses to spirit and beauty. Without pride, he often spoke of his art as having a power equal to that of Picasso and Matisse, which many agree with and believe today." - (par. 3-4,

Soley on my composition, this piece is simply a representation of his style, weaving in his purposes also by means of expressing traditional values. This shows a Niitsitapi young man from my people, courting with a flute. The love is expressed by the glowing red art, and the hummingbirds that circle and even attempt to land on his fingers. Hummingbirds are seen as symbols of love with many nations. Elk also were seen as singers that no female could resist to as well, which explain the elk tracks leading to him, as if he himself is the elk, walking to this spot and sitting to sing his songs through the flute (somewhat relating to a small interest series including "The Flute Player").
His overall body shaped formed a diamond shape, which helped me decide and define the background geometrically, as Oscar Howe does in his work. The blue represents a peacefullness which one feels when playing this instrument, blue relating to the calmness of a nice day, where the blue sky is exposed fully.

--Artist's Critique--

An extremely important and vital portion in my portfolio, its my first and so far only composition dealing with a paint medium. Acrylic to me is a bit, if not completely uncontrollable, especially at this time when creating this, but I took my time and put in the effort so the edges would not be overlapping or sloppy. I was told he also used painter's tape to achieve his very fine sharp edges in his geometric backgrounds and even shapes within his main subjects. I believe a good composition, many things could be changed though to enhance the power this piece has the potentional of expressing to viewers. Certain places the background overlaps into the body, which in some ways shows a little poor craftsmenship, but it was mainly trying to create the same blues after putting it down for a day and picking it up the next. I believe with more exposure to acrylic and other paint-based projects, colors will become easier to create later, as well as my overall craftsmanship will improve.

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