Through Navajo Children's Eyes: Cultural Influences on Representational Abilities

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Abstract

This article describes, analyzes, and interprets various cultural influences on the representational drawings of young Navajo students, in order to understand their changing cultural viewpoint. The data and drawings were gathered from two elementary art classes in one Navajo public school in northeastern Arizona, as part of an ongoing study. This information is compared to anthropological data gathered on adult Navajo drawings nearly 30 years ago, as well as to some dominant theories on child art. Data reveal students are influenced by Navajo traditional images, classroom teachers versions of school art, popular art images, pan-Indian influences, and peer copying. Results reveal the persistence of traditional nature imagery, the incorporation of similar schemas and color use with mainstream children, a keen ability to render realistic images and space, and the incorporation of those American things that the Navajo regard as “good for them.” Keen drawing abilities appear at a young age among the Navajo because of the high status of the arts, traditional education through observation and demonstration, peer imitation, and male drawing competition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-67
Number of pages21
JournalVisual Anthropology
Volume7
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1994
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology

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