Art of the Cherokee
Prehistory to the Present

Susan C. Power

Recognizing the aesthetic and historic importance of Cherokee art


"Power's work is a groundbreaking art history of North Carolina and Oklahoma Cherokees. In my opinion this is one of the most important works since that of the early ethnographers including Frank Speck and James Mooney. Meticulous research and a consistent use of direct information from living Cherokee people are reflected in this sensitive and well-documented art history of a vibrant and resilient people."
—Mary Jo Watson, Associate Dean of the College Fine Arts and Associate Professor of Native American Art History, University of Oklahoma

"Power aptly examines the role of Cherokee Indian art and offers a significant contribution to an understanding of Cherokee culture and traditions. Carefully compiling available literature and coupling it with her own extensive research, Power elicits a very approachable balance in her writing. Her study of early works and the influence these pieces have on contemporary artists is very informative. Power’s efforts to present so engaging a story will enhance our knowledge of the Cherokee's creativity in the face of adversity and garner respect for Cherokee artists."
—Andrew L. Strout, University of Oklahoma School of Art

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This illustrated historical overview features some of the finest examples of Cherokee art in private, corporate, and museum collections throughout the world. As Susan C. Power ranges across the rich legacy of Cherokee artistic achievement from the sixteenth century to the present, she discusses baskets, masks, beaded and embroidered garments, jewelry, and paintings. Power draws on archival and scholarly sources and, when possible, the artists' own words as she interprets these objects in terms of their design, craftsmanship, style, and most important, their function and meaning in Cherokee history and culture.

In addition to tracing the development of Cherokee art, Power reveals the wide range of geographical locales from which Cherokee art has originated. These places include the Cherokee's tribal homeland in the Southeast, the tribe's areas of resettlement in the West, and abodes in the United States and beyond to which individuals subsequently moved. Intimately connected to the time and place of its creation, Cherokee art changed along with Cherokee social, political, and economic circumstances. The entry of European explorers into the Southeast, the Trail of Tears, the American Civil War, and the signing of treaties with the U.S. government are among the transforming events in Cherokee art history that Power discusses.

In the twentieth century, as Cherokee artists joined the mainstream art world, they helped shape the Native American Fine Art Movement. Today, Cherokee artists continue to create in an artistic voice that is uniquely Cherokee--a voice both traditional and contemporary.

Page count: 312 pp.
Trim size: 8.5 x 11


List price: $29.95

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Susan C. Power is a professor emerita of art at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. Her book Early Art of the Southeastern Indians (Georgia) was selected by the American Library Association as a "Best of the Best from the University Presses" title.