Painting parallels between the Star Wars narrative and Native cultures
December 20, 2019 7:27 AM   Subscribe

At first glance the traditional Hopi maroon-and-tan patterns are a surprising look for the famous droid (FB video). But [Duane] Koyawena says it makes total sense for R2. "A lot of elders, or our uncles or friends, always tell us in ceremony or something going on 'nahongvitah,' which means to give it your all, or just to be strong and to persevere. So, I feel like the Hopi R2 kind of fits in that same line," he says. Koyawena is one of 25 artists from more than a dozen Southwestern tribes taking part in the art exhibit "The Force Is With Our People." 'The Force Is With Our People' Connects Indigenous Culture To A Galaxy Far Away (NPR)
The pieces reflect Star Wars themes, such as endurance and rebellion, that have resonated powerfully with the franchise's devotees for decades. As it turns out though, Star Wars also speaks strongly to the historical experiences of many in the Southwest's Indigenous communities.
...
"I think there's clearly some parallels ... between Native stories — things like the Hero Twins, [a] very prominent story in Navajo culture (Navajo People.org) — parallels between that and Star Wars, of course Luke and Leia being basically Hero Twins in that story," says Museum of Northern Arizona curator and ethnographer Tony Thibodeau.

He got the idea for the exhibit during a trip to Indigipop X, the Indigenous Comic-Con in Albuquerque, N.M., and with the release of The Rise of Skywalker — said to be the final installment of the original saga — the timing for the show seemed perfect.
...
The pieces span a wide variety of styles from fine art painting and ceramics to T-shirts and other pop art. A glass case in the middle of the exhibit holds tiny wooden Chewbaccas carved and painted in a sparse Navajo style. Nearby stands a storm trooper adorned with patterns by an Apache artist, and a comic book illustration represents R2D2 and C-3PO as Navajo Code Talkers.
Artists in the exhibit include:
Jason Garcia (Santa Clara Pueblo) [Okuu Pin Studio, previously]
Dale Deforest (Navajo) [artist's website]
Ryan Singer (Navajo) [artist's Facebook page]
Susan Folwell (Santa Clara Pueblo) [a page on the artist]
Mavasta Honyouti (Hopi) [artist's website]
Enoch Endwarrior (Navajo/Oneida) [article about the artist, artist's Twitter account]
Rod Velarde (Jicarilla Apache) [article on the artist]
Mike Toya (Jemez Pueblo) [artist's Facebook page]
Jared Yazzie (Navajo) [OXDX Clothing]
Duane Koyawena (Hopi) [artist's Facebook page, artist's Instagram account]
Farlan and Alesia Quetawki (Zuni) [page of the artists' work for sale]
Cynthia Begay (Navajo/Hopi/Chicana) [artist's website]
Randall Wilson (Navajo) [page on the artist]
Jonathan Nelson (Navajo) [Badwinds Studios]
Dezbah Rose (Yuchi/Chippewa/Navajo) [artist's website]
Darby Raymond-Overstreet (Navajo) [artist's website]
Raymond Trujillo (Laguna Pueblo)
Randy Kemp (Choctaw/Muscogee-Creek/Euchee) [bio in PDF, Radio Healer, a collaborative with Kemp and others]
Shandiin Yessilth (Navajo) [page on the artist]
Shaun Beyale (Navajo) [artist's blog]
Landis Bahe (Navajo) [artist's Instagram account]
posted by filthy light thief (6 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
I was at an art and craft show for indigenous women here in Ottawa recently and Baby Yoda made some prominent appearances. There were other Star Wars references in the art, as well, but Baby Yoda has swiftly jumped into the mix. Anishnaabe author Waubgeshig Rice said on Twitter that he thinks the adoption of that character in particular has a lot to do with indigenous reverence for both elders and children -- Baby Yoda seems to be both, simultaneously.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:23 AM on December 20, 2019 [6 favorites]


Great FPP and links. The minute I saw the NPR piece I knew it would end up here.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:30 AM on December 20, 2019


This is such a thorough post! Thank you for linking out to everyone's info. I hope people see this and go follow them. It's really nice to have an IG feed full of art. Some of my favorite work for many years has been the interplay between Star Wars and traditional art. Navajo women fighting walkers. Hogans and kivas in intergalactic landscapes. Traditional pottery with subtle symbols woven in. I am pleased to see it get more attention. I think one of the ways we combat the feeling that all Natives are in museums is by making and sharing and displaying art that combines the traditional with pop culture.

If I might - you may want to add the tag NDN to this. I don't generally encourage non-native people to use NDN in any context. It stands for Non Dead Native, and this exemplifies that.
posted by stoneweaver at 11:48 AM on December 20, 2019 [2 favorites]


This one has also turned up on my Facebook feed a week or two ago: 'So darn cute:' Indigenous artists and memers embrace Star Wars series' Baby Yoda
posted by Strange Interlude at 1:32 PM on December 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


I think one of the ways we combat the feeling that all Natives are in museums is by making and sharing and displaying art that combines the traditional with pop culture.

Good point, I hadn't heard of modern Native art described like that.

If I might - you may want to add the tag NDN to this. I don't generally encourage non-native people to use NDN in any context. It stands for Non Dead Native, and this exemplifies that.

Thanks for the suggestion, and the comment. I've added the tag here.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:14 PM on December 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


Here's another interesting link - Comox First Nation artist Andy Everson:
https://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/star-wars-indigenized-andy-everson-1.4463320
posted by domdib at 1:14 AM on December 21, 2019 [1 favorite]


« Older Aaaaaaaaaaaargggghhhh!   |   The Gerrymanderer’s Daughter Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments