Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tonto Revisited (Geographically off Topic)

Sign at a "western town" near Ilz, Austria. Photo (c) Ruth Ellen Gruber


By Ruth Ellen Gruber

I just linked to a post by my brother about images of Native Americans in art and architecture in Syracuse NY... Sam's post was pegged to an exhibition at the ArtRage gallery in Syracuse called "Tonto Revisited" about stereotypes of Native Americans in advertising and elsewhere. I have posted pictures from Europe of such stereotypes, which are widespread around the world. (The exhibition on American Indians at the Ethnographic Museum in Berlin, curated by Peter Bolz, displays a collection of such Indian kitsch as part of its focus on "North American Indians: From Myth to Modern.")

What do Land ’o Lakes, Argo Cornstarch and Syracuse minor league baseball have in common? Stereotyped images of Native Americans. This exhibit is curated by Tom Huff, a Seneca/Cayuga artist living on the Onondaga Nation. It exposes the cultural mythology surrounding Native Americans. The images and objects associated with “Indians” are dictated and defined by the dominant non-Indian culture. Many of the resulting representations are culturally and socially incorrect, even racist, with exaggerated misrepresentations of Native Americans.
Huff’s collection of portrayals of menacing warriors wielding tomahawks, knives and bows and arrows found in posters, advertisements, toys, sports logos and more will be on display. He has been collecting “Indian Kitch” for over 25 years. While many may not think of them individually as destructive, this exhibit helps to illustrate how these pervasive negative preconceptions trivialize the tragedy wrought on indigenous peoples everywhere. We hope to both dispel the myths surrounding Native Americans and to encourage a new understanding of native peoples.
Tom Huff is primarily a stone sculptor working in a variety of stones, styles, and themes, traditional and contemporary. He is also a member of the CORA Foundation’s Board of Directors and has curated the November/December ArtRage exhibition, TONTO REVISITED: Native American Stereotypes. He has also curated The Nuclear Indian Series,  a solo installation and group exhibitions of contemporary Iroquois artists from the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy.
You can also view artwork and sculpture created by Tom Huff beginning in November at the Everson Museum, Oñgweson gyastoñh – Haudenosaunee: Elements, 11/13/10 thru 1/16/11 and at the Warehouse Gallery, Tom Huff: The Window Projects at The Warehouse Gallery, 11/18/10 thru 2/19/11.

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