American decorative arts are surviving items of American use or make – usually other than architecture, sculpture, paintings, and so on – that have enough artistic merit in quality of style, make, or underlying aesthetic merit to qualify as true art, and thus document a significant historical period. Some of the decorative arts are so widespread that they are widely used in home decors; others are so rare that no one could discover them without special knowledge or help. The majority of the decorative arts developed in the United States after the Revolution but before the beginnings of the United States itself. They date from Colonial times through the mid-nineteenth century. Most people are familiar with the most common examples of American decorative arts: the American colonial classic furniture; the American Indian beadwork and carvings; and the country western art. But American decorative art has much more to offer.
In the early years of American history, American decorative arts were built around individual personality and style, much like their American forefathers had done several centuries before. Colonial style furniture was distinctive in its rough woods and earthy colors, which contrasted greatly against the smooth, beautiful furnishings of the New England style furniture. Colonial style furniture was often hand crafted and uniquely hand painted for special occasions. For example, one New England family’s home had over three hundred pieces of this particular American decorative arts collection on display, and it was sold during the Christmas holidays to a local dealer who specialized in this very special type of furnishings.
In the years following the Revolution, when the population was swelling and the need for more permanent dwellings was at hand, the demand for more permanent furnishings also increased along with the need for decorative items. America’s westward expansion into the new territories of Mexico and Arizona introduced a wide variety of new materials that would be used in American decorating and interior design. These materials included everything from redwood to adobe, mesothelioma to rock, and American Indian sculpture to American Indian pottery.
As the country expanded westward along the Mississippi River and into the vast territories that were now Texas, Oregon, and California, new items of Americana began to be constructed. American Indian sculpture became especially popular as a way of portraying Native American life and by placing their sculptures in display, these items could then be passed down from generation to generation. One of the most popular items of this type that can still be seen in some American Indian museums is the San Diego Zoo’s “American Indian Sculpture Museum”. The exhibit includes twenty five different examples of different types of American Indian sculpture. The large format paintings are placed in front of large sandstone display cases, displaying an array of brightly colored pieces of art work that are designed to serve as both a reminder and a permanent artwork in display.
Decorative arts and crafts are not the only displays of American decorative arts and fine art. The rich history of American Indian art has also left its mark on American furniture. The styles of furniture commonly seen in American homes reflect many different styles of American Indian art work. In fact, some of the furniture designs that can be found in the United States are actually an offshoot of the many styles that existed among the American Indians. By capturing the unique aspects of American Indian art as well as the practical designs of American furniture, American Indian furniture has become a popular choice for those who enjoy both.
One of the highlights of the American Indian collection of decorative arts and fine art is the American Indian rock figurines. The stunning colors and designs that are found in the rock figurines make them stand out as excellent pieces of American Indian art and home decor. The striking designs that can be found in many of the fine rock figurines are done with an ability to create a beautiful work of art while still having a functional purpose for the American Indian culture and tradition. By capturing these true to life details, the American Indian rock figurines allow the American Indian culture to leave its mark on the world.