Wisteria Sale, Final Day, Right Now. Up to 40% off.
Wisteria is an amazing couple-company that’s grown over time, in the best of ways, and made a loyal supporter of me when I purchased the nesting baskets above more years ago than I can count. I can’t stand paper mail, but I always look through their catalogue with love and appreciation; I travel the world through their well edited, beautiful selections and their forever philosophy of doing well by doing good. These are my favorites from this home decor sale:
Hi ladies! Love the site and read it all the time. I am writing to ask you to please remove the stylized headdress from this list. Ceremonial headdresses have special cultural and religious significance and reproductions of them aren’t appropriate decorative objects. I agree that using art to teach respect for culture is a great idea, though, so I encourage you to check out (and support!) some of the amazing and talented indigenous artists out there. Here are just a few ideas: artists at San Idelfonso Pueblo makes some of the most beautiful pottery anywhere and you can buy it online, and so do the artists at Acoma Pueblo (Sky City); Shonto Begay’s paintings are incredible; Wendy Red Star is an amazing photographer, as is Will Wilson; Margaret Jacobs does the coolest abstract sculpture. And for fashion there are great choices too: Bethany Yellowtail, whose label is “B.Yellowtail” makes beautiful modern dresses inspired by her heritage. Native artists still (still!) have their designs stolen/appropriated without being compensated or having their work properly credited. I know you would never intentionally do something disrespectful to another person’s culture, and I know that many people don’t know about he issues indigenous artists face; I encourage you to remove this headdress and encourage support for real Native artists instead. Thank you!
Thank you, Kate! I was feeling a little off about it too, but hadn’t come up with a good way to express it and also suggestions for “what to do instead”.
First of all, thank you. More than anything, any community, including this blog, is about engagement. I genuinely appreciate your doing so in a caring and respectful way. No, the inclusion of that item was not intended to offend anyone; and I apologize sincerely if it did. After much thought, here’s where I am: I vote we leave it. And this conversation. Because my hope is: that more good will come from the dialogue. For me, personally, when I came upon that item, and in consideration of some other things I’m working on, I was inspired to start researching and collecting items that are created by and crafted by and in support of Native American Communities. That post is a work in progress and will take time. I genuinely appreciate your suggestions and will find a way to work them all into that post; thank you for including them in the comments, and maybe you’d even be willing to comment on a draft before it gets posted? A few thoughts in consideration of your comment: we can’t all travel the world, and we can’t all own original, and many often display and or wear items that are ‘born’ in religion and/or spiritual culture but are being used in the ‘spirit of’ while not necessarily appropriately to that culture and/or religion-many of the objects that have become associated with many forms of popularly practiced yoga come to mind-are they ‘wrong’ or ‘offensive’ for being worn on t-shirts and yoga pants? I’m not sure. The piece included in this post, is in fact a reproduction, in the ‘spirit’ of a museum piece. I personally, do not take issue with that. The originals are symbolic and meaningful. And not something most of us would ever be able to buy nor appreciate in person without travel and great expense. I don’t personally find the reproduction offensive, mostly because it is displayed in such a ‘this is special’ ‘this demands respect’ ‘ask me about this’ way. I am also the girl that while I don’t practice an one religion, I grab bits of all of them from which I feel my family might benefit in learning to appreciate all of them. We have a Buddha. He’s probably not proper. He’s definitely a reproduction. He’s not properly placed. He sits center on the dining room table, and is turquoise ceramic. My kids and I make offerings of gratitude to him. And we talk about Buddhism and world religions, and 1 God and many gods. He’s a conversation starter and a life practice tool and someone(thing) we just appreciate. I see the white feathered head dress in much the same way. We live on Native American soil. We may or may not have that blood in ours, we absolutely share that culture, heritage and history. While the white head dress isn’t necessarily the one single item to be chosen for a home to prompt that conversation about where did this come from and what does it mean, it is an item that might do so, and is beautiful, and (re)produced by a very respectful company that is seeking to expand world view through the travels of a couple and their collections. And that, I personally, am ok with. If you were one person, and we were having this discussion, and you were offended, I would remove that item. I honestly, believe, that leaving that item, letting people see it, and read your thoughtful and though provoking comment, and my response, which in short, is: I see your point. I respect your view. My hope in including it was to promote conversations just like this one. I feel more good comes from leaving it, and this conversation, and letting anyone that’s interested, read along and think about it on their own. I hope that makes sense, even if you don’t completely agree with my view. And again, I genuinely appreciate your thoughts on this, thank you for sharing them.
Thanks, Annmarie. I can tell you are not intending to be hurtful. It’s really clear that you care and want to be respectful. The issue here is this specific piece on the website–the war bonnet reproduction. The reason you can’t buy a real, original war bonnet is that they are earned, not sold. They (and copies of them) are not appropriate for non-Native folks to have in their homes or wear on their heads (though I understand this piece is not intended to be worn). I am not sure there is an equivalent; maybe something like someone wearing a military medal he or she did not earn. Some people who are members of tribes who use headdresses, feathers, and war bonnets would consider this extremely, extremely offensive–think blackface. There are lots of intelligent discussions on this in other media and I won’t rehash it all here; please read up on what others have said about war bonnets and cultural appropriation if you are interested. But the tl;dr version is that there are many wonderful kinds of indigenous art that celebrate and honor indigenous culture and this is not one of them.
Perhaps most importantly, if we want to support and honor Native culture and Native art, we should buy it from Native people. This website does not appear to sell art from Native artists; all I see are reproductions. There’s no need to travel or spend a lot of money to support Native artists because Native American artisans and artists sell their work online (including on etsy) and in galleries all over the country, and many folks make pieces at reasonable price points because they are trying to support themselves as artists and to make their work accessible to many people. This seems to me to be a much better way to support and promote indigenous art.
Thanks for thinking about and weighing in on this topic. It’s important and I think people can really benefit from the conversation. People who are well-meaning, kind and thoughtful can sometimes make mistakes, and that’s where I think it’s really important to have a culture of openness.
#truth I’m leaving the item in the post, simply as a point of reference for this conversation. In hopes that anyone following along, can appreciate your taking the time to educate me and speak to the concern, and for anyone else that might also have not known, to learn. Thank you for engaging, for doing so as respectfully as you do, and for teaching me things I did not know. I can’t change my mistake, but I have learned from it, and will find some way in the future to ‘make-good’ on it. I hope you have a good day. xo A
Thank you Kate for putting into words the feelings I couldn’t articulate nearly this well. Seeing the war bonnet made my heart clench tight, reading your thoughtful response helped me breathe through the frustration and shock that I site I love would be this unintentionally disrespectful. “I can tell you are not intending to be hurtful….People who are well-meaning, kind and thoughtful can sometimes make mistakes…” Agreed. Thank you themomedit and Annmarie for your thoughtful response.