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Durham e-Theses
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Contemporary Eskimo fine art

Harrison, John (1992) Contemporary Eskimo fine art. Masters thesis, Durham University.



1. Life After The Advent Of Extensive White Contact This consists of a brief discussion of socio-economic/ educational/ cultural factors which govern Eskimo lifestyles, and therefore, affect their art e.g. Lack of adequate schooling/ state legislation made by whites/ unemployment/ racial and cultural discrimination/ exploitation/ development of Eskimo politics. Many of these are relevant issues because many of the current Eskimo artists deal with these issues in their artwork. This section, therefore, serves to creat a general "overview" of circumstances for the modern Eskimo.2. Pre-Contact Art A survey of the major forms of pre-contact art to act as a comparision/contrast with the modem arts, and the changes in roles and functions of the arts, and the actual arts themselves.3. Contemporary Sculpture An examination of the major themes and styles in contemporary Eskimo sculpture, and how these differ from those of the pre-contact period. What are these differences caused by? For example, have artist's choices increased with the decline of traditional beliefs, and the introduction of new influences and materials via white contact? Can these new art forms be considered as "art" as opposed to "craft", and who gets to make such distinctions? In other words, who sets the standards of evaluation in regard to aesthetic qualities, and narrative content? A brief discussion on the subject of "authenticity": who determines it; what is it; and, if we can actually define it, do the new Eskimo arts come within its boundaries i.e. can we say that they accuratley reflect Eskimo culture of the present day? Have the motivating factors for the artists changed significantly, and especially, to an extent whereby the actual art has changed in all meanings.4. Contemporary Printmakinq As above, but geared towards the specific issues relating to printmaking.5. Conclusions A summing up of the materials gathered in order to define the role and nature of the Eskimo arts; the problems facing these contemporary artists, such as cross-cultural appreciation, stereotyping, and bias from the western institution of "art history”. A discussion of "primitive art" in relation to Eskimo artists, and how we may overcome the pejorative connotations we attach to this label e.g. Should we limit ourselves to qualitative experiences, or learn to use the same set of judgemental values as the creator peoples; or, even more fundamentally, should we actual attempt to familiarize ourselves with the Eskimo’s culture/historical background to be able to give a fair assessment.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:1992
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:18 Dec 2012 12:03

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