Is it Kitsch? Camp? or Fine Art?
Glimpses of Indian Life
Making it Local
Authenticating the Inauthentic
Secularizing the Sacred
Mixing High and Low
Yearning for the Past

Secularizing the Sacred
Promoters used Native religious ceremonies to epitomize New Mexico early in the development of railway tourism in the 1890s.

Hopi Kachina dolls, Navajo Yei deities, and rituals like the Hopi Snake Dance became symbols for exotic events tourists could see. Promoters superimposed images of these events on silver jewelry, inexpensive Mud Head Cup mass-produced ceramics, and frightening photographic postcards. Automobile tourism simply further sped-up the process of transforming sacred rituals into inexpensive, secular commodities.

During the Route 66 period, plastic Jesuses adorned the dashboards of cars, images of the saints were painted on lowrider automobiles, and famous southwestern painters were themselves presented as painted retablos. Route 66 was and isn't the only road to the sacrilegious. At sacred shrines and famous churches worldwide you can buy souvenirs with images of Buddhas and Christ as well as saints, angels, and other religious symbols. Invariably, aspects of these popular icons can be interpreted positively or negatively.

About Tourist Icons Museum of Indian Arts & Culture | Museum of New Mexico Museum of New Mexico Museum of Indian Arts & Culture
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