Art of the Northwest Coast

Aldona Jonaitis

  • $26.95 paperback (9780295986364) Add to Cart
  • hardcover not available
  • Published: 2006
  • Subject Listing: Native American and Indigenous Studies; Art History / Native American and Indigenous Art
  • Bibliographic information: 344 pp., 152 illus., 89 in color, 7 x 10 in.
  • Territorial rights: N / A In Canada,Uk, Austrl, Nz
  • Contents

Art of the Northwest Coast is a comprehensive survey of the Native arts of the Pacific Northwest Coast, from Puget Sound to Alaska and from prehistoric times to the present. Incorporating the region's social history with the observations of anthropologists, historians of art, and Native peoples, this groundbreaking volume examines how the upheavals of European contact affected the development of a powerful traditional art. By exploring the distinct origins of each of the area's linguistic groups and their histories, mythologies, and art forms, art historian Aldona Jonaitis reveals how a complex web of factors informed these groups' varied responses to the changes and challenges brought about by contact with Europeans.

The post-contact period has often been considered a time of decline for Native artistic traditions and techniques, but Jonaitis convincingly argues against this assumption. The traditions were not lost, she asserts, but rather were expressed in different ways. Forms such as tourist art - made expressly for sale rather than for community use - were for some the only outlets available in the trying, repressive years when Natives were deprived of their land, rights, and essential cultural expressions. While art made for community use was often judged "inferior" in quality to nineteenth-century creations, it still expressed the strong aesthetics of a surviving Native culture.

Since the 1960s, Native artistic activity has flourished and is increasingly recognized as fine art rather than anthropological artifact. Repatriation of Native works of art from museums, a strong market for collectors and dealers, and a reaffirmation of traditional culture and heritage among Native communities all contribute to a vibrant field in which Native artists reflect their enduring cultures in works that explore many contemporary directions.

Compellingly written and beautifully illustrated, Art of the Northwest Coast is a cornerstone addition to any library and essential reading for anyone interested in the art of Native cultures.
Aldona Jonaitis is director of the University of Alaska Museum of the North and professor of anthropology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She is the author of From the Land of the Totem Poles: The Northwest Coast Indian Art Collection at the American Museum of Natural History and The Yuquot Whalers' Shrine, among other books on the art of the Northwest Coast.
1. Creating a Great Art Tradition
2. Art at the Time of Contact
3. Nineteenth-Century Southern Coast Art
4. Nineteenth-Century Central Region Art
5. Nineteenth-Century Northern Coast Art
6. Settlement and Its Consequences
7. Public Awareness of Northwest Coast Art
8. Persistence of Artistic Traditions, 1900 to 1960
9. Identity and Sovereignty, 1960s to Today
Bibliographic Essay

"The book is an excellent source for readers new to Northwest Coast art and for students. Jonaitis' comprehensive analysis is thorough and the images, plates, and illustrations are exceptional. Jonaitis' writing style is sophisticated and clear . . . . Art of the Northwest Coast reflects a new paradigm of examining indigenous art forms and history."
-Alaska History

"[This] book as a whole proves that this is a significant and worthy contribution to the literature on the art. . . The book does a thorough job of presenting an overview of the art tradition and commenting on it from first white contact and how it has persisted, thrived, and evolved to our own time."
-American Book Review

"Masterfully written, superbly illustrated. ... Must reading for anyone interested in the arts of Native cultures."

"A compact, thorough, and very attractive survey of indigenous art from the Pacific coast between Puget Sound and Alaska..carefully and responsibly blends text, captions, graphics, and color reproductions to build a complete picture of the rich artistic traditions that developed among the coastal people."
-The Bloomsbury Review

"Jonaitis illustrates the vibrancy and diversity of nineteenth-century art of the Northwest Coast, connecting both the past of pre-contact and the future of today's art and artists...Art of the Northwest Coast is an excellent and informative portrayal of Northwest Coast art, the people, traditions, geographic regions, and transformation involved from pre-contact to today."
-Multicultural Review

"A masterfully written, superbly illustrated, welcome addition to any collection. Must read for anyone interested in the arts of Native cultures."
-Choice Magazine