Indigenizing Urban Landscapes: Northwest Coast Artists and Cities in the Late Twentieth Century

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The experiences of Northwest Coast artists show how Indigenous peoples have confronted a past marked by conquest and the importance of urban areas for these purposes. Benefiting from the “Northwest Coast Renaissance” that emerged after World War II, Indigenous artists traveled to cities in British Columbia where they studied museum collections, attended art school, and entered the art market. These artists influenced the discourse over the meaning of Indigenous art by engaging in conversations with academics, collectors, curators, fellow artists, government officials, and tourists. Advocating for broader issues of cultural and political sovereignty, they also worked to “indigenize urban landscapes,” or to shape the cities of British Columbia during critical periods of urban growth. Despite significant limitations, such efforts have been built upon and are continued by the generation of Northwest Coast artists working today.


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