Adapting the Language of Postcolonial Subjectivity: Mimicry and the Subversive Art of Kent Monkman

Michael Bick

Abstract

This thesis explores the complex means by which Native American colonial subjectivity is constituted by a hegemonic epistemology that imbricates race, gender, and sexuality through a language of social hierarchy. By way of racial and gender marginalization, the Native American subject has become a means of authenticating the dominant Euroamerican class. 19th century artists of the American frontier, such as George Catlin and Paul Kane, contributed to an aesthetic tradition that perpetuated the silencing of a Native North American voice and upheld the social hierarchy instituted during colonialism. Through a close reading of the queer and racial images in Canadian/Cree artist Kent Monkman's paintings Artist and Model and Si je t'aime, prends garde a toi, which confront Catlin and Kane's aesthetic legacy, this thesis explores the question of resisting the social oppressions of colonial subjectivity through consenting to that subjectivity.