Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
S. M. Mead
This thesis is a study of the arts of acculturation and is thus concerned with change in the arts of nonwestern people under acculturative influence. The primary interest is the stylistic analysis of contemporary Sepik River art forms which form part of the Austin Collection now housed in the Royal Ontario Museum. These objects were collected during the period between 1961 - 1966 from the Sepik River Province of Papua New Guinea.
To understand the p0sition of contemporary Sepik River art the art forms are considered in their cultural contexts. The overall cultural composition of the Sepik River Province is first presented and then followed by an overview of the tourist industry in Papua New Guinea so that the changes in art can be considered in the light of the prevailing socio-economic conditions.
In order to document the changes which have occurred in Sepik River art the stylistic features of the art forms from the Austin Collection are compared with those which are considered to be traditional. Included in the examination of traditional objects and illustrated in the appendix are art forms from the Margaret Mead Collection at the American Museum of Natural History,from the Staatliches Museum fur Volkerkunde in Munich, Germany, and objects from the Ryan Collection exhibited at Isaacs Gallery in 1974, and 1975.
The results of analysis and comparison show that changes in the Sepik river Province as illustrated by the Autin Collection follow four main trends. These are: expansion, permutation, adjunction, and simplification. Expansion involves increased size , as well as the introduction of new forms, motifs and colours replacing traditional ones. Permutation refers to new translation of traditional content. The incorporation of new forms, motifs, colours, and materials to already existing ones resulting in a hybrid of traditional and foreign elements refers to adjunction. The simplification trend involves the reduction, elimination and standardization of traditional stylistic elements.
The stylistic analysis of the Austin Collection reveals that artistic activity appears to be very much alive in the Sepik Rivel' Province and is creatively adapting to the socio-economic changes of the twentieth century. As such, the Auotin Collection reflects not only the sweeping changes that have occurred in contemporary Sepik River art. production but becomes also a valuable document of change which anthropologists should consider. This thesis is a contribution then to both the study of culture change and stylistic change. The illustrated catalogue represents a valuable reference tool for future studies and should be considered for any studies documenting stylistic change in the Sepik River Province of Papua New Guinea.
Stanaitis, Ilona, "Contempory Sepik River Art , A study of Stylistic Change" (1976). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 7162.
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