Genres of the Vernacular: Drawing, Comics and Zines in Indigenous Contemporary Art

deadline for submissions: 
August 31, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Madeleine Reddon, Jonah Gray, @College Art Association
contact email: 

 This panel is interested in the mediation of popular visual idioms in North American Indigenous contemporary art. Imagined as a "shared language," pop culture offers Indigenous artists a set of mediums, forms, and figures for representing shared experiences of survivance across disparate and distinct transnational and tribal contexts. Prior to its “discovery” and appropriation by metropolitan modernists in the 1920s and 1930s, Indigenous material culture circulated commercially in the early 1900s. Creators of this material culture navigated market appetites by introducing innovative designs often through new mediums. The unfolding of this complex genealogy in the first half of the 20th century, in which Indigenous art fluctuated from being considered mere “handicraft” to being recognized as “modern art,” anticipated a deliberate rejection of the division between high and low art among many artists in subsequent generations. Since then, Indigenous artists in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s have reworked tropes and formulas from advertising and other mainstream visual cultures to voice their own desires, anxieties and fears and turned towards mediums and materials that offer more flexibility than prestigious “high art” would allow. Some examples of artists working in “vernacular arts” might include Edgar Heap of Birds, Alootook Ipellie, G. Peter Jemison, Brian Jungen, Rachel Martin, Annie Pootoogook, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun.

Email above or submit directly to CAA:

Conference located in Chicago, IL, February 14–17, 2024

In-person panel

We welcome papers on:
Zines, comics, cartoons,
Drawings, sketches
Ledger drawings
Works-in-progress, “incomplete “ or
“unfinished” works
Version histories and image iterations, copies
Archival ephemera

Field(s) of Study:
Cultural Spheres: Native American/First Nations
Media: Drawing
Topics: Vernacular Art
Modern Movements: Pop
Media: Artist's Books