Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Although the exhibit at Heard Museum on Allan Houser is coming to a close, I thought I would just add some thoughts about his artwork. I just went to the exhibition and watched the museum's video in tribute to Allan Houser, and now I am a devoted follower. I have never known a lot about contemporary Native American artists, but by looking at Allan Houser's oeuvre, and the progression in his development of ideas over time, words can not describe what an accomplishment he has made.

His earlier works are mostly flat, in the well-established two-dimensional tradition of Native American painting.
But as his artwork progresses, a sense of volume and depth appear. As Allan Houser takes on new mediums and explores three-dimensionality, his work evolves with it. Houser's more mature works incorporate minimalism and abstract features with traditional forms. He used a lot of bronze, stone, wood and marble. He produced more that 1,000 sculptures in these mediums which are in over 80 museums internationally.

What I found fascinating about Allan Houser was his idea of independence. After listening to him talk about his work, it is clear that he did not break away from traditional forms just to gain notoriety, but he felt that by doing this, his work would keep his culture alive. These sculptures emulated his people, their values, and the way in which they felt and expressed themselves in every-day life. Not only did Allan Houser embrace modern ideas, but he opened a way for emerging Native American artists to form their own paths while still staying true to their heritage.

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