Cover: So Much More than Art: Indigenous Miniatures of the Pacific Northwest by Jack Davy. photo: one large and six small carved wooden miniatures of people, which are painted red and black.
224 pages, 6 x 9
21 photographs, 7 tables, 2 charts
Release Date:01 Jun 2022
Release Date:01 Oct 2021
Release Date:01 Oct 2021
Release Date:01 Oct 2021

So Much More Than Art

Indigenous Miniatures of the Pacific Northwest

UBC Press

Miniature canoes, houses and totems, and human figurines have been produced on the Northwest Coast since at least the sixteenth century. What motivates Indigenous artists to produce these tiny artworks? Are they curios, toys, art, or something else?

So Much More Than Art is an original exploration of this intricate cultural pursuit. Through case studies and conversations with contemporary Indigenous artists, Jack Davy uncovers the ways in which miniaturization has functioned as a subtle form of communication and, since contact, resistance in the face of aggressive colonization. His interviewees dismiss the persistent assertion running through studies of material culture that miniatures were no more than toys for children or souvenir trinkets. They are in fact crucial components of satirical opposition to colonial government, preservation of traditional techniques, and political and legal negotiation.

This nuanced study of a hitherto misunderstood practice convincingly demonstrates the importance of miniaturization as a technique for communicating complex cultural ideas between generations and communities, and across the divide that separates Indigenous and settler societies. So Much More Than Art is also a testament to the resilience of the Indigenous peoples of the Northwest Coast.

Students and scholars of anthropology, museum studies, Indigenous studies, and art history will find this work a valuable addition to their libraries, as will museum, arts, and heritage professionals.

Davy establishes the miniature as a significant social actor on the Northwest Coast. Emily L. Moore, Colorado State University, BC Studies
Davy argues that miniature carving can be understood as a form of resistance in the face of 'aggressive colonization ... ' Students and scholars of anthropology and museology will find this volume eye-opening. L. De Danaan, CHOICE Connect
So Much More Than Art goes beyond other studies by demonstrating how Northwest Coast Indigenous artists use and have used miniaturization not only as an artistic practice but in provoking interventions in social relations and as a strategy of communication and resistance in the face of colonialism. Karen Duffek, curator, Contemporary Visual Arts and Pacific Northwest, Museum of Anthropology at UBC
Davy’s book is a welcome addition to our evolving understanding of Indigenous art and settler-colonial relations. Robert E. Walls, Journal of Folklore Research Reviews
Drawing heavily on the knowledge and opinions of Indigenous experts from communities all along the coast, Jack Davy invites us to think more critically about Northwest Coast miniatures, and leaves us with a framework with which to do so. Kaitlin McCormick, curator, Western Ethnology, Canadian Museum of History

Jack Davy is head curator at the Morley Gallery, London, UK. He is a co-editor, with Charlotte Dixon, of Worlds in Miniature: Contemplating Miniaturisation in Global Material Culture, and has published in Anthropology Today, Journal of Material Culture, International Journal of Heritage Studies, and American Indian Culture and Research Journal. He has worked for the British Museum, the Horniman Museum, and the Beyond the Spectacle project at the University of East Anglia.


1 Practice and Play: The Makah

2 The Haida String: Northern Peoples

3 Tiny Dancers and Idiot Sticks: The Kwakwaka’wakw

4 Small Foundations: Tulalip Tribes

5 An Elemental Theory of Miniaturization

6 Analysis of Technique and Status

7 Miniature Realities

Notes; References; Index

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