Miniature canoes, houses and totems, and human figurines have been produced on the Northwest Coast since at least the sixteenth century. What motivates Indigenous artists to produce these tiny artworks? Are they curios, toys, art, or something else?
So Much More Than Art is an original exploration of this intricate cultural pursuit. Through case studies and conversations with contemporary Indigenous artists, Jack Davy uncovers the ways in which miniaturization has functioned as a subtle form of communication and, since contact, resistance in the face of aggressive colonization. His interviewees dismiss the persistent assertion running through studies of material culture that miniatures were no more than toys for children or souvenir trinkets. They are in fact crucial components of satirical opposition to colonial government, preservation of traditional techniques, and political and legal negotiation.
This nuanced study of a hitherto misunderstood practice convincingly demonstrates the importance of miniaturization as a technique for communicating complex cultural ideas between generations and communities, and across the divide that separates Indigenous and settler societies. So Much More Than Art is also a testament to the resilience of the Indigenous peoples of the Northwest Coast.
Students and scholars of anthropology, museum studies, Indigenous studies, and art history will find this work a valuable addition to their libraries, as will museum, arts, and heritage professionals.