Art or Appropriation?

Posted By Toyacoyah Brown December 11th, 2014 Last Updated on: December 12th, 2014


I saw some people getting upset about this online and thought I'd share with you guys too. An artist by the name of Jen Stark is known for her psychedelic paper art. I've seen it and it looks pretty cool. However when I saw the tipi being painted I cringed. What do you guys think, art or appropriation?


I was starting to think maybe she was misguided. Throughout history, artists such as the Surrealists, have borrowed every day objects and used them in different ways to give new meaning. However the tipi has a long history and is anything but ordinary.

And by the artist using it in this way, it makes people think posing in a headdress is okay:


Blah. If you want to dig around more, check out #teepeeproject on Instagram. Here's the link to the artist's page: https://www.facebook.com/JenStarkArtwork.

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About Toyacoyah Brown

Toyacoyah Brown is an enrolled member of the Comanche Nation, currently living in Chicago. She received her B.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and an M.A. in Media Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. When she's not scouring the Internet for fun things to share with PowWows.com readers you can find her digging for vinyl in her local record store or curling up with a good book.

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Get a life people!


i totally agree with Danyelle. Also, i think many people respect and honor NAI. I know i sure do. I do not know all of the dos and donts or all of the hx although i have researvhed bc i have a masive amount of respect and intrest. Indo not know who my biological grand dad was but ive always tjought i must have somw Native blood due to my ways and intrest. Anyway my point is, just bc someone may not be fully educated does NOT always mean that they are being disrespectful! One last thought, an elder full blooded NAI once told me, ” being a Native American Indian is not just by blood, it is by heart and spirit, many bloodlines have crossed and there is good and bad in each one. Some i would call brother in each and some i would not”

Beverly Fry

Cultural appropriation is just a craftsy way of adapting an ideal of one culture within a multitude of others. The tee-pees are fun and invigorating; yes, research should or could have been more up-front. The artist needed to have owned up to her variation on a theme.

danyelle robinson

This is ridiculous, since we are talking about the teepee and not the headdress. Does this mean natives can only use traditional instruments in music? Only native themes in art? What about landscapes… who gets to claim them?


Well the Tepee is Ok Only if it has the paintings of Horses, and other wildlife as the Real Indians did so many yrs before.. It’s Not right to Mock The N.A.I. There ways are sacred, lets give them all Respect!!


I learn something new each time, I visit certain sites, about Native American Culture. I find this most interesting.,..I know about the Head Dress, however… That I have read and understand… Now, I am learning even more, about the Tee Pee Tipi… Wow! Thanks…

Morriane RavenWolf

I wouldn’t say anything if it wasn’t for the Headdress. Tipi’s are used by many plains cultures, not just in North America, so I could understand the use of it for an art project. But the headdress is definitely Culture Appropriation since it is a sacred item.

Erwin Brown

If you are not a police officer you should not wear the uniform. If you are not a fireman you should nor wear the uniform. If you are not native…… you know where this is going right? I don’t wear any clothing that has a logo of any kind because I am not on that team or I don’t work for that company. It’s disrespect, a deception. I’m sorry but this woman is as clueless as Heidi Klume. My father’s mother was full Seneca and I’m not but I carry a deep respect for her memory and for her people. I would never play at being a pretend version of a native person. This cheapens the quality of us all.


So if you are not NAI you should not buy from them or spend time or money with them? And vice versa, if you are NAI you should not buy fr or sell to the non Native Americans or use anything non Natives have produced, invented, etc? And just WHOM is keeping prejudice going here? We are all family and all from the great Spirit Creator, is Mother Earth not all of ours? Indeed i know some abuse her and disrespect the Spirit Creator but that does not mean cultures should be divided.


Perhaps education is the answer. I had no idea it was a problem until I read the comments. I even had to go back and see the chain and padlock (perhaps I am not observant enough). It looks to me like a young girl expressing herself with art. However, I do understand the importance of preserving culture, traditions and history. Is there anything anywhere written or said that this behavior is taboo or outlawed? Art of expression is individuality.


I think it’s awesome.I built one in my back yard in MA and it lasted 5 hard winters and I am gonna make another one for my grand kids this year. Tee-Pee’s are awesome.Art is awesome.It’s mine and I will decorate it as I like.I’m not trying to insult anyone they are being insulted.To each their own.Live & Let Live


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