Merging traditional cultural art with a modern aesthetic, Native-owned store Eighth Generation is bringing authentic Native art – including clothing, home decorations and accessories – to the forefront.
There is a high demand for cultural art in today’s market, but a majority of these products are counterfeit, using appropriated designs by non-Native artists.
Louie Gong, founder of the Seattle-based store, Eighth Generation, is seeking to change that by making authentic artworks by Native artists available to a growing market.
The Nooksack tribe member, artist and activist’s first foray into creating his own designs began when he started customising shoes in his living room. Louie Gong is known for merging traditional Coast Salish art with influences from his urban environment to make strong statements about identity.
Eighth Generation aims to create opportunities for community-based cultural artists who, like Louie Gong, struggle to meet demands for handmade cultural art.
Louie Gong and Eighth Generation was recently featured on CNN’s The Great Big Story. You can watch the video below.
Louie Gong said: “In addition to telling the Eighth Generation story, this piece [The Great Big Story] will help inform hundreds of thousands – maybe millions – of people about the economic consequences of counterfeit Native art. With this message in mind, we believe customers will be more likely to choose to support Inspired Natives, not “Native-inspired” – and that will lead to an increase in opportunities for all Native artists and art entrepreneurs.”
Eighth Generation has also established a national grant programme for Native artists. The Inspired Natives Grant is a project-based grant for emerging Native artists who are pushing boundaries in the world of arts and arts entrepreneurship.
The grant will be administered in partnership with The Evergreen State College Longhouse and awarded annually. The goal is to assist emerging artists of all mediums in developing business infrastructure (e-commerce, branding, equipment, and product development) to maximize their potential for success in the mainstream marketplace.
For more information on the Inspired Natives Grant visit the Evergreen State College Longhouse website.
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief @rosamedea