Fritz Scholder

by Travis Wolf

Since this paper is going to be for my group’s blog to present, there’s no need to address whoever sees this. Today, I’m here to talk about a Native American artist named Fritz Scholder, his paintings and how it ties into my lesson learned in this class.

Fritz was a man who was one quarter Luiseno Native American who died in 2005. But before he did, he did about 40 paintings in which he used a wide variety of colors to make pictures of other Native Americans. What he did with his paintings was create images of these tribes, often with traditional dress, but in a modern setting, such as eating ice cream on the side of the road or drinking alcohol and having no job. In other words, he painted images of Indians that existed in our mind in settings and situations that they faced in the real world.

And the reason he did all this was because as an art professor at a university, he couldn’t a single student in his classes that could create an honest representation of current American Indians.

In doing this, he created major controversy and uproar among people about the topics of his paintings. I don’t know how people responded exactly to them, but I would assume that many would probably deny the images and criticize Fritz for them. Some people came up to him on the streets and asked him why he painted Indians to be so ugly.  But what’s interesting to me is that to him, as long as people had some kind of reaction to the paintings, he never carried the criticisms with him.

According to the interviews of Fritz or his friends, all of his paintings were an experiment in color first and foremost. Because of his love of art and color, whenever he would paint a certain topic, he would begin with and focus on how he would mix the colors and make the entire thing catch the attention who saw it.

As for the controversy surrounding the paintings, it again ties into him wanting to depict the issues and cultural clashes Native American tribes face today with modern society. In doing so, he revolutionized art and how Native Americans are depicted in social media. For some, it influenced how they used art for protest in the Native Rights Movement.

And all this helps explain my most valuable lesson learned in this class.  Although I can’t put it into a title of some sort, here are my thoughts on what I’ve taken from this course. First, Native Americans and related issues are a very diverse topic. Their cultures, heritages, and the way they represent themselves in social media are all things that I have an interest in. It grabs my attention like nothing else in ethnic studies and it’s something I want to research for the sake of learning itself! I’m that intrigued by the topic. Second, it pays to be as polite as you can with people all around the world, regardless of the culture. If you want to know as much as possible about the culture, be polite, ask questions, and show your interest. I know, I’m preaching to the choir here, but simple things like this seems to work pretty much everywhere. And third, we all get effected by things that happen to other people, including Native Americans. If we’re going to solve the problems in this world, we need to include the issues of everyone, and that means the issues being faced by Native Americans included, The Dakota Pipeline among them.

Works cited

“How Native American Artist Fritz Scholder Forever Changed the Art World,” by Jordan Steffen, December 29, 2015.