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Dissertation Fellowship 2019
The Dedalus Foundation Dissertation Fellowship for 2019 – 2020 has been awarded to Christopher Green, a PhD candidate at the Graduate Center at the City University of New York, for his dissertation Masked Moderns: Northwest Coast Native Art Beyond Revival. The award carries a stipend of $25,000.
Mr. Green’s dissertation focuses on Native American artists of the Pacific Northwest from 1962-1992 who used the idioms of Euro-American modernism to complicate notions of artistic identity, authenticity, and tradition in Northwest Coast (NWC) Native art. The visual production of what is known as the Modern Revival or Renaissance of NWC art, which involved the purported recovery of “traditionalist” styles and methods based on the canon of an idealized past, has dominated the history of post-war NWC artistic production. As a result, the interplay between NWC Native art and Western modernism has been generally overlooked. In fact, indigenous artists drew upon non-Native aesthetic innovations to create significant works that departed from the Indigenous Modern Revival’s neo-traditional style.
This dissertation will comprehensively demonstrate that NWC artists were deeply knowledgeable about the legacy of Euro-American modernism, and were able to reframe its history of primitivist appropriation and values of aesthetic autonomy by applying modernist forms and procedures to Indigenous content. The artists in this study constructed a doubly post-modern NWC art in their critical response to both the Indigenous Modern Revival and Western modernism. Through abstraction, assemblage, and surreal landscapes their transformative works created visual metaphors for the complex political relations within cohabited settler-colonial states, and gave expression to Indigenous visual sovereignty at the contact point between Native American artists and Euro-American art.
Christopher Green‘s research focuses on modern and contemporary Native American art, the representation and display of Indigenous culture, and the various primitivisms of the historic and neo avant-gardes. His scholarly and critical writing has appeared in Art in America, frieze, The Brooklyn Rail, ARTMargins, Winterthur Portfolio, and ab-Original, among others, and he co-edited issue 11 of SHIFT: Graduate Journal of Visual and Material Culture, “BLOOD AND EARTH AND SOIL.” In 2018–2019 he was a Smithsonian Institution Predoctoral Fellow at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Museum of the American Indian.