Appreciation vs Appropriation
If you are visiting my website (northoffifty.com) it is probably because indigenous art appeals to you. Everything on this site is designed for, and intended for everyone to enjoy. When you purchase from an indigenous business, you are supporting that business and that is appreciation.
Cultural appreciation refers to the respectful recognition and understanding of another culture. It can mean learning about and showing admiration for different cultural practices, customs, traditions, clothing, art, and music.
That’s why I talk a lot about the artists, who have created the beautiful art on my website. It is an opportunity for them to tell you about their work, and an opportunity for you to learn more about them. On most product pages, there is a link to more information about the artist. You can also follow the “Search by Artist” link at the top of the home page to learn more about a particular artist. When you do that, you are learning about and appreciating your purchase.
Cultural appropriation, on the other hand, is about disrespect. It is about demeaning and mocking a marginalized culture for its practices and customs. It is often about using cultural elements for profit without permission or acknowledgement. The theft of indigenous art online is a huge problem. It’s most notable when unscrupulous manufacturers steal designs from legitimate artists to recreate on orange Tshirts, thereby profiting from another culture’s suffering.
The key distinction between appreciation and appropriation lies in the intent, respect, and acknowledgment involved. Cultural appreciation comes from a place of genuine interest and respect, wanting to learn and understand, while cultural appropriation often stems from ignorance, disrespect, or a desire for personal gain without considering the impact on the originating culture.
So, what’s the bottom line? If the artwork on my website appeals to you, by all means, you can feel proud to hang it on your wall, wear it, drink from it, admire and appreciate it 😊
A Little More Information About Stolen Art on Orange Tshirts
You’ve seen that Facebook post showing actor Keanu Reeves holding up an orange Tshirt – that’s cultural appropriation and theft. Keanu Reeves did not pose for any these photos and the artwork on those Tshirts has been stolen from native artists. The artists are neither acknowledged or paid for their work. We can probably all agree that Keanu Reeves is a wonderful human being, and his image is being used unlawfully, too. There are literally hundreds of websites and Facebook pages stealing and profiting from the hard work and inspiration of indigenous artists. If any orange Tshirt you see on Facebook is accompanied by a photo of Keanu Reeve, do not purchase it!
The photo above is another stolen design. The original artwork is by Cree-Ojibway artist, Simone McLeod. Ms McLeod does not reproduce her images on Tshirts, so if you see this design on an orange Tshirt, it has been stolen.