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Native American (Choctaw), 20th–21st century, male.

Born 1959, in Phoenix.

Beadworker, painter, fashion designer, glass artist , performance artist.

Marcus Amerman is a distinguished Choctaw artist who works in a number of media and in performance (as a figure called ‘Buffalo Man’) but is best known for creating his own approach to the Native American tradition of beadworking. Amerman has a BA in Fine Art from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, and also studied at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe and the Anthropology Film Center. He lives and works north of Santa Fe. Amerman uses a highly mimetic style in his beadwork to recreate, and hence reclaim, Indian images from history, as in his beaded version of the famous D.F. Barry photograph, ...

Article

Native American (Cheyenne and Arapaho), 20th–21st century, male.

Born 22 November, 1954, in Wichita (Kansas).

Painter, draughtsman, sculptor, printmaker, installation artist, conceptual artist, educator.

Edgar Heap of Birds is one of the most distinguished North American indigenous artists of his generation. His works reveal a distinctly critical and historical awareness of the ways that American Indian peoples, their histories and their viewpoints have been ignored and written over under colonialism. He has received numerous honours, presenting his work in competition for the United States Pavilion at the 52nd Venice Biennale (...

Article

Native American (Wintu-Nomtipom/Tenai), 20th–21st century, male.

Born 5 October 1937, in San Francisco.

Artist, poet, writer, traditional dancer.

Frank LaPena, of the Wintu-Nomtipom/Tenai of Northern California, is a key figure, along with a number of other important Native artists working in California during the 1970s, in what has been termed a ‘Renaissance’ in California Indian arts. Many of LaPena’s artworks engage directly with his awareness of California Indian experience and memory. He has used Mount Shasta significantly as a source of inspiration. As was usual for his generation, he attended a federal Indian boarding school (in Stewart, Nevada) and experienced its harsh assimilationist doctrines. He began to be interested in the arts during high school and this developed further during his undergraduate years at California State University, Chico. Later earning a teaching credential at San Francisco State University and a Masters of Arts degree at CSU, Sacramento, he would eventually teach at the latter as Professor of Art and Ethnic Studies. He has said that he learnt more from his California Indian elders than anything presented to him in the state education system. Now retired, he continues to hold leadership roles in the arts both locally and nationally....

Article

G. Lola Worthington

(b San Francisco, CA, Oct 5, 1937).

Native American (Maidu–Wintu) painter, printmaker, photographer, writer, educator, traditional dancer and poet. LaPena, also known as Tauhindauli, spent time with the Nomtipom Wintu and other regional neighboring elders to conserve and regain traditional cultural practices. He was taught traditional tribal songs, dances and ceremonial rituals of Northern California Native American culture that inspired his interest in reviving and preserving Northern California tribal culture and accompanying performance arts. His work, along with Frank Day (1902–76), a late Maidu elder and painter, aided the founding of the Maidu Dancers and Traditionalists, a group dedicated to carrying out traditional cultural forms and social practices. Earning his bachelor’s degree from California State University (CSU), Chico (1965), and an Anthropology Masters of Arts degree from CSU, Sacramento (1978), he taught for the next 30 years in the CSU, Sacramento American Indian Studies program.

For LaPena, his art was a spiritual act, which empowers the maker with an opportunity to achieve a stronger sense of understanding life. Inspired by prehistoric rock painting, some painted images are depicted in total abstraction, while others illustrate a narrative theme. His strong consciousness of his Californian Native American heritage is distinctive and many themes in his compositions provide a powerful commentary in their depiction of the struggles of Northern California Native Americans; “To let the world know what happened in California, and to the indigenous populations points out that survival issues are still of great concern.” His paintings and prints reached a popular acceptance. LaPena exhibited throughout the United States and internationally at the Wheelwright Museum, Santa Fe, NM, the Chicago Art Institute, the San Francisco Museum, the Linder Museum, Stuttgart, the American Arts Gallery, New York, the George G. Heye Center of the Smithsonian, New York, and numerous galleries. In ...

Article

Canadian First Nations (Cree), 21st century, male.

Born 1965, in St Mary’s (Ontario).

Painter, filmmaker, installation artist, performance artist.

Kent Monkman’s eclectic career as an artist began with his study of illustration in 1986 at Sheridan College (Oakville, Ontario). He subsequently refined his training in various colleges in the United States and Canada, among which are the Banff Center in Alberta (...

Article

Arthur Silberman

(b near Redstone, OK, Aug 28, 1900; d Anadarko, OK, Feb 14, 1974).

Native American Kiowa painter. He was brought up with full opportunity to participate in Kiowa religious and cultural life. In his youth, the Feather Dance (the Kiowa version of the Ghost Dance) was still being practised, with symbolic imagery on clothing. The Peyote religion, with its strong designs and colour visions, was also important. Mopope’s first art teachers were his great-uncles Ohettoint (Oheltoint, Charles O. Buffalo; 1852–1934), a former Fort Marion prisoner (see Native North American art, §IV, 2, (i)), and Silverhorn. He helped Ohettoint, Silverhorn, and others of the family in painting a new version of the ‘Tipi with Battle Pictures‘ (1916–18; destr.; original tipi design, c. 1840; model of original by Ohettoint, 1890s, see Ewers), and was one of a group of young Kiowas encouraged to draw and paint by Suzie Peters (1873–1965), a government field matron. Years later, in 1927, she secured their admission to the University of Oklahoma as non-matriculated art students. Oscar B. Jacobson (...

Article

Native American (Bay of Quinte Mohawk), 21st century, female.

Born 1954, in Niagara Falls (New York).

Photographer, filmmaker, painter, sculptor, printmaker, screenwriter, beadworker.

The Mohawk artist Shelley Niro, born in the United States and raised at the Six Nations Grand River Reserve in Ontario, Canada, is a member of the Turtle Clan. She received a BA from Ontario College of Art and Design (...

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Native American (Gordon First Nation), 20th–21st century, male.

Born 1953, in Regina (Saskatchewan).

Sculptor, painter, draughtsman, installation artist, performance artist.

A highly regarded figure in the field of First Nations/Native American contemporary art in Canada, Edward Poitras was the first indigenous artist to gain the distinction of representing his country at the Venice Biennale in ...

Article

Native American (Spokane), 21st century, female.

Born 25 April 1952, in Spokane (Washington).

Artist, activist, educator, lecturer.

Charlene Teters is perhaps best known for her long-standing campaign (since 1989) to educate the wider populace against the use of racial stereotypes of American Indians in both sports and the media (including her work for the National Coalition on Racism in Sports and Media). Her formal education includes an MFA from the University of Illinois (...