February 26, 2005
EtherHouse *EXCLUSIVE*! -- More Ward Churchill art!
Regular readers may be surprised, but I think it's time some of us on the right stepped up to defend Ward Churchill. I can't applaud his defense of terrorists and their right — indeed, obligation — to murder "little Eichmanns" (defined as: everyone who died on Sept. 11). I can't condone his instructing his audiences on the most effective ways to carry out terrorism. And, of course, I can't stifle a laugh when I see photos of him in his office, Capitalism Condemnation Central, unironically surrounded by a shiny new iMac and assorted technological trappings.
But let's give credit where credit is due, shall we? Ward Churchill turns out to be a truly important visual artist, with a lot to say about the plight of Native Americans. Michelle Malkin, Myopic Zeal, Brainster, Ace, Say Anything, Speed of Thought, Protein Wisdom, and Confederate Yankee have all had their snarky say about this alleged plagiarism:
"Winter Attack," by Ward Churchill, circa 1980 (Photo: CBS4, Denver)
From "The Mystic Warriors of the Plains," by Thomas E. Mails, published 1972 (Photo: CBS4, Denver)
These self-styled "pundits" are saying that Churchill's art is just a reversed image of Mails'. But it's so easy to mock heartfelt artworks, isn't it, when their message makes us uncomfortable? It's so easy to condemn an image as "derivative" when what we're really trying to do is avert our eyes from the shameful truths it contains.
I ask my readers to reconsider. Thanks to a friend in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado, I was able to obtain some little-known Churchill originals. Regardless of what you think of Churchill's political views, these works show that as an authentic Native American, he is truly committed to salvaging his nearly exterminated culture. For that, and for his innovative artistic vision, even his enemies must respect him.
The keen eye; the fine brushstrokes; the skilled application of chiaroscuro and manipulation of positive and negative space; the use of color to both shock and beguile the eye all hallmarks of a master craftsman, capable of wielding his awesome technique to repudiate the postmodern even as he elevates it. Churchill's art will do more than just challenge your assumptions about Native and European cultures; it will overturn your outmoded ideas about art itself.
Churchill is no plagiarist! Perhaps coincidentally, the pieces above looked similar. But when you look at the works I'm showing, these EtherHouse exclusives, you'll realize that his vision is wholly original. I defy you to show me any "source" that can remotely claim to have inspired these pieces. You've never seen anything like them, I guarantee!
Now forget politics for a moment, and feel yourself transported to the Great Plains, to a time before the European brought pestilence, theft, and "ethnic cleansing" to the land. Open your mind to Churchill's sensitive explorations of Native American cuture. Let the raw emotion of these blazingly original, inventive images affect you.
"Warrior: Creek Nation of Georgia." Early mosaic work (c. 1967), from the "Creek Nation" series.
"Creek Tomahawk and Stitched Bull Hide." Gouache on board. 1993, from the "Creek Nation" series.
"Hopi Rain Dancer at Rest." Seriegraph. 1990, from the "Woo-Woo Indians, not Dot-Head Indians, Stupid" series.
"White Man Doritos Bags, Beer Cans, and Technology In General Make-um Ward Churchill Heap Big Cry." Lithograph. 1999.
"What You Mean 'WE,' Kemo Sabe?" Oil on linen. 2002.
"Indigenous American, Holding Sacred Smoking Materials Forbidden by Unelected Fascist US Regime, Stares Longingly, Hopelessly Across Florida Straits Towards Free Land of Cuba, Workers' Paradise." Acrylic on fiberglass. 2003.
Shame on you. You leave Ward alone. Go pull wings off flies or kick in ant hills. Now don't go all innocent on me. I recognized just a kernel of gloating in your cleverness. It's unattractive, so stop it. Just kidding. "Sell the kids for food, nature is a whore".
Posted by: mary at February 26, 2005 01:19 PM
By the way, I live near the "university" where ward "earned" his "b.s." and "m.s.". It was very cutting edge in the early 70's when it was instituted. You wrote your own curriculum and I don't think you actually went to classes or read books or wrote papers. I think you could matriculate from this place if your pulse was over 50. The experiment has since been abandoned. I don't know how many of these people are floating around in the halls of academe, but let me tell you I was shocked to hear that Colorado had one.
Posted by: mary at February 26, 2005 01:43 PM
As to Churchill as an "authentic Native American", he's already publicly admitted that he is not actuall a blooded indian.
I'm a "native American" because I was born here. Thus I'm "native" to the state of Washington.
And derivative works are not inherently plagiaristic, as long as it is clearly understood from when the work derives, and it's not presented as an original concept. It may be an "original Churchill", but it is clearly the same as the other reversed derivatives you've shown here. Not to say they aren't creative, but they certainly aren't innovative.
I especially like the "kill paleface" one.
Posted by: Write Winger at February 26, 2005 08:16 PM
I meant to say "matriculate at this place". I'm not a Mrs. Language Person Wannabe but I should look twice before I post. I've been going back in your archives and reading the funniest and most intelligent writing. I just love the blog world. So many exquisitely smart and clever people. Everyone can publish whether they have a hot agent or not. I too have been a closet Bush voter. Well not too closeted. My adult children are shocked and embarrassed. My siblings treat me like a pariah. My husband is lovingly tolerant. It could be worse he said. When I foolishly tried to explain my epiphany of Sept. 11 to friends they just smile and nod like I have my breakfast oatmeal dribbled down my bosom. That morning my son was in Queens and his girlfriend was in the village looking out her balcony and saw the first plane hit. She left to go to class at NYU law and saw the second plane hit. They couldn't be together for several days because he couldn't get back to Manhattan. (And for reasons unfathomable, they were Kerry supporters) I was teaching my fourth grade class in Illinois and getting sporadic reports from the secretary. I had CNN on the internet in my classroom but it was jammed. I was listening to a radio report on a staticky station and heard about the pentagon hit. I had to stay with my fourth graders all day not knowing what was happening. I was apoplectic with rage. Even though I had voted for Gore (knee-jerk life-long voting habits) I thanked God on my knees that he wasn't president. I just knew Bush would go after them. The only thing the seventh century mindset respects is power. My kids say but mom the world hates us. (They are world travelers.) I said they always have, and now they can fear us too. It was then that I discovered the blog world. Andrew Sullivan got me through the worst of the first months. He was so calming and cerebral and yet just as angry as I was. The world changed that day. The earth's poles reversed. My generation grew up. (The Silliest Generation) I can't tell you how irritating the comparisons to Vietnam are to someone who was in college at that time. It's NOT THE SAME!!!!!!!. Well, ahem, ok, now, that will be all.
Posted by: mary at February 26, 2005 08:37 PM
It's not so bad being a closet Bush voter. A closet is so much like a voting booth, it made good practice. Heh.
Posted by: Mick McMick at February 26, 2005 08:50 PM
A Sept 11 Republican of sorts, eh, Mary? It's always amazed me how many people were able to emerge from that period unchanged, with their beliefs and assumptions unexamined. For a few weeks there, from where I sat, it really looked as if some people were going to realize that their cherished beliefs didn't match savage reality... but they quickly retreated to the safety of their pre-Sept 11 world view, with an EXTRA-large dose of denial and all the rage required to fend off assaults on that denial.
And now those people call themselves the "reality-based community." I'd make a joke, but I'm afraid they've already made it for me.
Mick — very funny!
Posted by: EtherPundit at February 27, 2005 02:10 PM
For a minute, you almost had me fooled!
Posted by: Mark Nicodemo at March 1, 2005 02:13 AM
well i can tell you how he faked the one painting all he did was take a zerox and transfer it to a canvas and then painted over it. not even that skillful.
Posted by: yochanan at July 24, 2007 09:35 PM
Is anyone interested in buying some of Ward Churchills numbered authentic prints. They are pretty cool.
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