Sunday, October 19, 2008

Fritz Scholder (Kate's Pick)

"There are so many layers. You can't deny who you are, and you shouldn't-embrace every inch and ounce of your blood. All we own is ourselves." (Fritz Scholder)

I happened upon Fritz Scholder's work at a retrospective exhibit at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe.  I was immediately taken with his style and they way in which he deals with his subject matter - and that much of his work is based in printing.  As an American Indian, his work deals with issues of Indian identity in the contemporary realm; and while this is potentially a politically heated subject to depict, Scholder maintains an aesthetic subtlety that I admire. For example, when I think of Scholder's work in comparison to someone like James Luna (also dealing with Indian identity), I feel that Luna's approach is often too blunt and overt in its social commentary, whereas I commend Scholder's choice of medium and his ability to create formally stunning images even apart from their content.  The picture I've posted here (Indian Contemplating Columbus, lithograph, 1992) is one of my favorites from the IAIA exhibit.  While his subject is Native American, Scholder also connects himself with the  traditions  of pop art and 20th-century abstract art in a way that creates a complex network of associations and influences.  I see a link between Scholder and Emin's work in that both are steeped in ideas of identity, however they differ in how they deal with identity as a concept - Scholder's being more generalizable (to a degree) and Emin's being directly rooted in her own past.

I feel that this idea of a balance between aesthetic and conceptual elements is a useful thing to consider in any art-making process - in my opinion, one without the other often makes for art that is lacking.

For reference: The IAIA website has a description of the Scholder exhibit, and in general it is a great place to visit if you are ever in the Santa Fe area.  Also, there is an excellent article on Scholder from Native Peoples magazine that includes many thoughts from Scholder himself & many examples of his work in various media.

1 comment:

audrey said...

What I admire most about his work is the simplicity of it. The use of color, the content, the lines- they're all quite straightforward without much complexity. There is an honesty in them because of that. The viewer is not faced with some intense blatant Native American scene like you mentioned other works might, but is allowed to take a minute and understand the image; understand the artist in a quieter fashion.