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Dixon and Native Peoples

Dixon Symposium Rapid Recap 2

Eugene Tapahe moderates a session of a MOA Symposium

By MOA Student Marketing Assistant Kristina Kham

The second session of the Maynard Dixon Symposium addresses Dixon and his gained knowledge on Native Peoples. It begins with being addressed by Janalee Emmer, the Director of the Museum, welcoming everyone back and giving an overview of what our session should include. She introduces our moderator, Eugene Tapahe, who focuses on Native People’s photography;, acknowledges the land in which we occupy, and introduces our current speakers.

Next is Dr. Linda Jones Gibbs, Brigham Young University Alumni and an independent scholar who focuses on Dixon’s search for a “real” Indian. Her presentation “Maynard Dixon and the Search for the ‘Real’ Indian”, focuses on Dixon’s desire to understand life in the Western Regions and Southwestern Desert. She emphasized Dixon’s longing to depict American Indians in their real homes, faith, and inspiration while also straying them away from the stereotypes the world has given them.

Dr. Caroline Fernald, Executive Director of Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley, informs the audience on the different impacts of Dixon’s work in her paper “Ethnographic Style and the Influence of Anthropology in the Art of Maynard Dixon”. Fernald shares examples such as art pieces and lists that were given to Phoebe A. Heart Museum of Anthropology to highlight his true research over American Indians. These examples alongside Dixon’s art indicates his true expertise on who he was portraying. Dixon’s way of documenting and how he documented including collecting items, evolving style, and intellectual circles shows his ethnographic style and anthropogenic perspective while depicting his own artistic signature.

University of Iowa’s Matthew Bowman’s “Maynard Dixon & Glacier National Park: Blackfeet Dislocation from Sacred Landscapes” focuses on his dissertation on Dixon’s art pieces through Glacier National Park. Dixon's art of the Glacier National Park (1917) is an impression on how the Blackfeet land remains to be contested and how now the land no longer remains the same. Bowman’s appraisal goes into highlighting not only the changes that occurred, but it reveals the love that Dixon possesses for his work and the people whom he chose to know and understand within his art pieces.

To end the second session of the symposium, Dr. Kelsey Gustin, a Fine Arts Specialist from the U.S. Fine Arts General Service Administration, addresses how artists of color were placed within the U.S. Department buildings. Her presentation, “From Passive Presence to Active Agent: Native Women in the Paintings and Sculpture of the U.S. Department of the Interior Building,” communicated the importance of native art portraying native women. As Gustin delicately studies and shares, she simply underlines the impact representation art can have.

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