Extra Credit- Insight on James Luna

In lecture we learned about the artistic performances of James Luna, a Native American contemporary artist.  In this well known image that I have posted, he is wearing black sunglasses and a western tuxedo jacket with the words “All Indian All The Time “emblazoned across it.  This statement is not just a motto or a signature of his artistic style.  It is how he has lived his life.  James Luna has always been aware of his cultural heritage and the meaning of his identity as an Indian in America today.  Through his artworks, he makes his viewers aware of the stereotypical image they have placed upon him and his Native brothers. In most of his performances he uses humor.  He does things that are not ordinary in our day to day lives, such as carrying a canoe through the city or wearing a loin cloth in public.  I love how he approaches the stereotypes of the viewers by simply playing into them as a way to show how ridiculous Americans are today in regards to their preconceived notions of what real Indians look like and the way they live.  In one such performance called “Urban (almost) Rituals”, Luna addresses the survival of Native Americans in urban settings.  He acts as his created character known as Shame Man, a series of rituals  as he forms the spiral, acting as circus ringmaster, court jester and occasional merchant of venom.  Though he is holding back on his thoughts towards the seriousness of the issue, Luna raises the issues that face us individually.   I totally agree that people today are too stereotypical of other cultures.  Through his artwork, Luna overall portrays that although he is a Native American according to his heritage, he is also an American just like everyone else.  It is an interesting concept to think about.  What if we kept a certain image engrained in our minds of every single culture?  I guess in a way we do, being such judgmental creatures, but it is extremely prominent among Native Americans.  I can honestly say that when someone tells me to picture an Indian, my mind immediately pictures the stereotypical “Pocahontas”, vegetable growing, hunting, loin cloth wearing, tipi inhabitants.  After seeing some of these performances by James Luna, I will think think twice before defining a Native America in a different image then Americans. 




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