MSUToday
Published: Sept. 16, 2011

Faculty conversations: Laura Smith

Contact(s): Meghan Spork University Relations Student Writer cell: (248) 250-3743 meghan.spork@ur.msu.edu

Laura Smith recently submitted a manuscript based on her research of  Native American photographer Horace Poolaw.

Smith is an assistant professor in the Department of Art, Art History and Design. She is an Americanist art historian, which means that her research focuses on 20th century Native American art, and Horace Poolaw was one the first professional Native American photographers.

In Smith's work with Poolaw's photography, she explores the dichotomy of what it means to be modern and Native American. Traditionally, the two are not seen as analogous.

"It is thought that to be modern is to be more western, and to be Indian is to be identified as how you were living in the past," Smith said.

Looking forward, Smith wants to continue exploring the question of what it means to be modern and Native American. Though she is moving on beyond Horace Poolaw, she wants to continue to research indigenous cultures in Michigan and the Great Lakes area in the context of art history. She also hopes to expand her research nationally, focusing on a Native American art renaissance movement in a national, economic, intellectual, political and artistic sense.

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Laura Smith, assistant professor in the Department of Art, Art History, and Design, talks about her research of Native American art, particularly the work of Kiowa photographer Horace Poolaw.

Laura Smith, assistant professor in the Department of Art, Art History, and Design, talks about her research of Native American art, particularly the work of Kiowa photographer Horace Poolaw.

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