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Article

G. Lola Worthington

(b Buffalo, NY, 1950).

Tuscarora artist, writer, educator, and museum director. Hill studied at the Art Institute of Chicago (1968–70), and was awarded a Master of Arts degree from SUNY, Buffalo, NY (1980).

Intrigued with Seneca General Ely Parker (General Grant’s Military Secretary), Hill investigated Parker’s life, which took him to Washington, DC, for two years. Hill began to identify with Parker’s experience and realized he would devote himself to enlightening others about Native American arts, knowledge, education, and culture.

Hill was skilled in painting, photography, carving, beading, and basket weaving, and many of these works are located at the Canadian Museum of Civilizations, Quebec; the Woodland Indian Cultural Center, Brantford, Ontario; the Cleveland Museum of Art; the Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, OK; the Indian Arts and Crafts Board, Washington, DC; and the Seneca Iroquois National Museum, Salamanca, NY. He taught at McMaster University, Mohawk College, Six Nations Polytechnic, and SUNY at Buffalo. Hill developed a culturally based Seneca Language curriculum and training models for teaching....

Article

G. Lola Worthington

[Gwe-la-yo-gwe-la-gya-lis]

(b Alert Bay, BC, Canada, 1950).

Kwakwaka’wakw woodcarver. Hunt’s maternal grandfather, Mungo Martin (Kwa-giulth; 1879–1962), was one of the last living carvers on northern Vancouver Island, founder of the Thunderbird Park program in Victoria and one of the first to formulate Kwakwaka’wakw sculptural and painting styles. His paternal father, George Hunt, was an ethnologist, while his brothers, Tony and Stanley, also worked as woodcarvers.

Raised in Victoria British Columbia, and the first to finish high school, his encouraging teacher, who respected his culture, let him carve. Under his father, he became an apprentice in the Carving Program at Thunderbird Park, next to the British Columbia Provincial Museum.

At 21, Hunt assumed the title of Chief Carver at Thunderbird Park, a post held for 12 years. Resigning in 1986, Hunt began his independent artistic career. He is the first Native artist inducted into the Order of British Columbia, 1991, and in 1994 became a member of the Order of Canada. The University of Victoria awarded him an honorary doctorate in ...

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

G. Lola Worthington

(b Santa Clara Pueblo, NM, Jan 26, 1932).

Native American (Santa Clara Pueblo) potter. A renowned potter and member of the Tafoya family, his father, Camilio Sunflower Tafoya, revived ancestral traditional pottery forms and techniques and his sister, Grace Medicine Flower, was also a successful potter. Camilio produced Santa Clara’s first carved black and brick red pots characteristic of Mimbres pottery. Of his Pueblo upbringing, LoneWolf recalled, “We’d sit in the evenings and do beadwork, drawing, painting, clay modeling, woodworking, costume repairing … while our grandparents told us the old legend and stories.”

LoneWolf was a precision mining equipment machinist until 1971 when a back injury forced him to retire. The job provided him with an awareness of natural Colorado clays, which when heated or fired produce different colors and various effects from the local imbedded metals and chemicals. After his accident, he turned to pottery for a new career that coincided with his family’s pottery revival....

Article

G. Lola Worthington

(b Santa Clara Pueblo, NM, 1938).

Native American (Santa Clara Pueblo) potter. Her father Camilio Sunflower Tafoya, mother Agapita and aunt Margaret Tafoya revived ancestral pottery techniques characteristic of Mimbres pottery. Furthermore, they fabricated superior black and brick red carved-incised pottery forms. A member of the renowned Tafoya family, she, along with her father and brother, Joseph LoneWolf, further revived and expanded pottery forms and techniques in Santa Clara.

Surrounded by celebrated and respected potters, she began making traditional pottery. In the late 1960s, along with her brother Joseph, she began etching designs directly onto the clay using a Sgraffito method. Grace’s work, elegant and aesthetically ingenious, transforms pottery into phenomenal and celebrated showpieces.

Many steps are involved in creating her wares from locally obtained clay. Innovative combined techniques of polished polychrome clay with incised sgraffito produce spectacular creative objects. Coil built, dried, hand polished to a smooth finish with stone or painted with clay slips, she will often add additional color to the body. The contrast of matte clay against polished surface juxtaposes intricately layered designs with negative spaces. After the slip completely dries, she carves fine-line storytelling illustrations into the greenware clay. Polished steel cutting tools produce the very precise and painstaking ...

Article

Jeff Stockton

(Maurilio )

(b Laredo, TX, 1943).

American painter and printmaker of Mexican and Yaqui descent (mestizo). Peña’s art celebrated the strength of a native people who met the harsh realities of life in an uncompromising land, and his work was a tribute to the Native Americans who survived by living in harmony with an adversarial, untamed environment. His artwork was inspired by places in the Southwest that were part of an enduring landscape and represented the ancient heritage of the region that is now Arizona and New Mexico.

Peña’s work was defined by its bold color and form and dynamic composition. Abstract landscapes merged with human forms, and blanket and pottery patterns entered into the overall design. A prolific artist, Peña produced primarily watercolors and etchings, in addition to drawings, graphics, ceramics and jewelry. Irrespective of the medium, the recurring motif (and Peña’s artistic trademark) was a modeled, angular profile of a Native American man or woman, which he used as a simplified storytelling device....

Article

Canadian First Nations (Inuit), 20th–21st century, female.

Born 1969, in Cape Dorset (Nunavut).

Graphic artist (felt pen, crayon, pencil), printmaker (lithography, stone cut). Contemporary Inuit domestic scenes, social realism.

Active in Cape Dorset from the 1990s, Pootoogook moved to Ottawa after becoming the first indigenous artist to win the prestigious Sobey Art Award in ...

Article

G. Lola Worthington

(b Arizona, 1950).

American jeweler, sculptor, painter, and silversmith, of Mescalero Apache–Navajo descent. White Eagle began his career as a silversmith under the tutelage of legendary Navajo artisan Fred Peshlakai , at age five, learning by observation and developing an artistic understanding of Peshlakai’s aesthetic approach. At nine, he began making and selling his own jewelry at Union Square in Los Angeles. Later moving to Palm Springs, CA he continued to generate and sell his jewelry on the street under the date palms trees.

Always handmade, his jewelry pieces used the finest available quality of semi-precious stones. Singular details and features demonstrated his exclusive and unique artistic vision and styling. In 1973, the Yacqui artist, Art Tafoya, began a silversmith apprenticeship with White Eagle, studying the hand-stamped old style embossing skills of jewelry; he continued the historic creation of extraordinary designs.

Bold and substantial, White Eagle’s jewelry balanced a focal fluid turquoise stone against deeply carved flora and linear design lines. His pieces represented transcultural combinations of traditional Navajo silver interwoven with mainstream expectations of Native American style. He daringly counterbalanced mixed semi-precious stonework with irregular fusions of silver positive space. Smooth, amazingly detailed stamp work combined with bent offset features providing an overall asymmetrical daring quality....

Article

G. Lola Worthington

[ Jimmy Toddy ]

(b Wide Ruins, AZ, 1928).

American painter. Bill Lippencott, owner of the Wide Ruins Trading Post, gave Yazz paints and paper, encouraging him to paint at the age of seven. Lippencott and wife Sallie recognized Yazz’s artistic talent and advised him to pursue art seriously. At the age of ten, his work was exhibited by a museum in Springfield, IL. Completing his education at Sherman Indian School, CA, he established himself as an artist with a long national career.

Yazz enlisted in the Marines during World War II as a Navajo Code Talker. After the war, he studied art at Mills College in Oakland, CA, working under Yasuo Kuniyoshi . Returning to the Navajo reservation near Wide Ruins, he earnestly began his artistic painting career.

Painting subjects familiar from his daily reservation life, Yazz specialized in typical daily and ceremonial scenes. His paintings utilize flat minimal backgrounds and suspend his subjects in a floating and entertaining world. The paintings record the natural movement of light and air with powerful drama....

Article

Native American (Diné/Navajo), 20th–21st century, female.

Born 1966, in Ganado (Arizona).

Printmaker, sculptor, painter.

Political and social realism, abstraction, post-colonial themes.

Melanie Yazzie uses a variety of media including photography, sculpture, print, and paint to create personal, autobiographical and socio-political works. Using her Diné heritage as a source of inspiration, her practice draws attention to many key issues facing indigenous peoples. Themes have included issues of racism, misogyny, identity problems, poverty and abuse. Later works have concentrated more on personal issues and storytelling and touch on traditional, contemporary and imagined themes, including depictions of ceremonial life and ritual. Yazzie often collaborates with artists from other indigenous nations in order to raise further awareness and create shared experience through art practice....