Supporting the arts has taken many forms over the years. Being a patron of an artist has long been a worthy way of showing support. Today, many people who purchase art want to make a statement with how and where they buy. There are some specific ways to do that.
Be An Informed Buyer
One of the greatest threats to Native artists and their work has been the proliferation of cheap imitations. Imports from China and other places were long marketed as “Native Made”. Thanks to the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990, that label can no longer legally be applied to such work. Make it a part of your shopping to uncover where, how, and by whom a piece you’re interested in was made. If you are shopping in a store, make sure it’s a reputable dealer. Ask questions about the individual artist. Request a certificate of authenticity. Know what the hallmarks are for true handcrafted work. The more informed you are, the more your purchase is likely to support a true Native artist.
Be Vocal with Your Support
Marketing is often a challenging issue for many Native artists. Getting their name and their work out into the public marketplace is the way they build a reputation with potential customers. If you’ve found an artist whose work you like, tell others. Let people know about the artist who created the beautiful piece they are admiring. It’s one of the best ways you can ensure that artist can afford to continue creating the work you enjoy.
Be Aware of Cultural Diversity
Understanding that Native art flows from cultural heritage will prevent any misunderstandings between you and the artist. Requesting that a custom piece incorporating traditional designs and elements from a particular tribe be created by an artist with no affiliation to that tribe is akin to having jewelry produced in China labeled “Native” art. It’s important to respect the cultural boundaries of each individual artist if you wish to support their work.
Turquoise Skies has made it their mission to support and encourage Native artists because we believe in the importance of continuing traditional skills as well as encouraging modern interpretations. If you’d like to know more about the individual pueblos and tribes, or the many Native artists we work with, you can check out our blog at tskies.com.