Place, Memory, Narrative: Northwest Coast Native Art and Literature

Fall 2019
Winter 2020
Class Size: 25
Credits per quarter

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Taught by

Native American studies
3D studio art

What is the relationship between landscape and art? How do people map and define the Pacific Northwest? Within Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and the province of British Columbia, there is a great diversity of Indigenous people: Pacific Northwest Coast, Coast Salish, Interior Plateau, and Interior Salish. We will study the ways that place affects art and literature. We will learn the histories of the region, from tribal creation stories to contemporary case studies of Indigenous nation-building. We will critically consider dominant narratives, or the stories about Native people that have been disseminated in popular culture and public education, and compare them to the stories that Native people tell through texts, museum exhibits, and films. 

Students will build critical analytical skills through rigorous reading and writing. Our focus will be on writers and artists who see their art-making as both critically engaged and as part of their relationship to their communities. We will contrast visual sovereignty to intellectual and political sovereignty, defined as an Indigenous community’s or individual’s right to create a space for self-definition and determination. Faculty will work with students to develop different forms of literacies, including visual, cultural, and political. Students will be expected to integrate extensive readings, lecture notes, studio experiences, films, interviews and other sources into writing assignments. We will consider settler colonialism as a necessary context, but not the only frame for understanding Indigenous people. Rather, we will emphasize the resiliency and persistence of Indigenous nations. 

This program will have a 16-credit option that combines the lecture and studio art elements; there will be a separate 8-credit option that covers only the lecture component.  If you register for one, do not register for the other.  In fall, students registered for 16 credits will learn the serigraphy printmaking process. Working only on paper, students will learn to create both cut stencils and hand-drawn transparency positives for use with the photo-emulsion printing techniques. In winter, students registered for 16 credits will explore a range of relief printmaking processes including woodcut, linocut, and monotype.

This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in:

the arts, education, government, non-profit organizations, and public history.


Credits per quarter

Online learning:
  • Enhanced Online Learning - This offering requires access to web-based tools, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.
Special expenses:

Students should expect to spend $80 per quarter for art supplies. 


$30 in fall and $20 in winter for museum entrance fees.

Class Standing: Sophomore–Senior
Class Size: 25

Scheduled for: Day

Final schedule and room assignments:

First meeting:

Tuesday, January 7, 2020 - 9:30 am
SEM 2 B1105 - Lecture

Located in: Olympia

2019-04-30CRNs updated