I’m off for the annual Indian Market at Santa Fe, the biggest juried contest of Native American art in the world. It’s put on by SWAIA, the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts, a remarkable organization of volunteers. In an era of virtual social networks, this is a physical social network dedicated to the preservation and growth of Native American art and culture that goes back 80 years.
I go every year because I get to meet some of the best innovators and designers in the world. These are people who incorporate story-telling into their branded work by way of their Native American culture. If you really want to learn about story-telling, listen to these Navajo, Hopi and other Indian artists talk about their work. Much of their jewelry, pots, weavings, paintings, sculptures, and movies (yep, Native American cinema is hot), reflect stories their parents and grandparents still tell. And it is contemporary, not “ethnic,” in the sense that much of the art is abstracted from grand creation and epic stories, deconstructed and created in new and modern forms and ways.
If that sounds familiar, it is what media and marketing folks
are increasingly doing to sell the wares and services of big corporations. The Industrial Designers' Society of America has its big annual awards bash in Phoenix in early September and there are talks and workshops on storytelling. And, of course, on innovation and design.
I move back and forth between Native American and "Innovation/Design" social networks and cultures trying to connect them. It's like being in two dimensions that don't touch. Yet both are full of creative people who can learn from one another. Sustainability, story-telling, biofuels, light-on-the-land housing, balance, spirituality, design, innovation--these are modern, 21st. century issues that we are all now engaging. The folks on the rez have some of the answers.
I'll be offline for about a week, soaking up some learning.
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