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Article

Canadian First Nations (Oji-Cree), 20th century, female.

Born 28 March 1971, in Yorkton (Saskatchewan).

Installation artist, ceramicist, photographer, sculptor, printmaker.

KC Adams studied at Concordia University, in Montreal, Quebec, where she received her BFA in Studio Arts in 1998. Her artistic practice was further developed through artists’ residencies in Canada, at institutions in Banff, Charlottetown and Winnipeg. During her ...

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G. Lola Worthington

(b Santa Rosa, CA, Sept 22, 1899; d California, Dec 31, 1990).

Native American (Pomo-Comanche) basketweaver. Taken from her family to attend an Indian boarding school in Covelo, CA, Allen’s father, George Allen, of the Ukiah Pomo, and her mother, Annie Burke (1876–1962), of the Comanche, allowed Elsie’s grandmother Nellie Burke to raise and teach her about Pomo basketry techniques near Cloverdale, CA. A matrilineal skill passed down from mother to daughter, Pomo tradition requires the burial with the deceased of all baskets created during an artist’s lifetime. Annie Burke did not want Pomo basket artistry to die out and demanded that Allen not bury her with her baskets. Allen broke with tradition and kept her mother’s baskets.

In 1919 she married Arthur Allen of the Pinoleville Pomo tribe. Over the next 30 years, Allen devoted herself to education and adding baskets to the family collection. In 1980, her grandniece Susie Billy became her apprentice. Studying for five years, Billy developed her Pomo basket weaving knowledge and increased efforts to preserve Pomo basket cultural traditions. Allen’s oldest daughter, Genevieve Allen Aguilar (...

Article

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

Born 1927, in South Ikerasak/Ikerrasak (Baffin Island). Died January 2013.

Sculptor (stone/plaster), engraver, lithographer, watercolourist, draughtsman. Birds and animals.

Kenojuak Ashevak produced some of the most widely recognized and appreciated Inuit art of her generation and due to her success was able to transcend her role as an artist to hold an iconic status within Canadian national consciousness. She began stone-cutting in the 1950s but soon became better known for her skills in drawing and printmaking. Two of her prints were selected to appear on Canadian postage stamps. With several other Cape Dorset Inuit and with the guidance of James Houston, an early promoter of Inuit art, she formed the West Baffin Cooperative Print Studio in ...

Article

Canadian First Nations (We Wai Kai/Cape Mudge Band), 21st century, male.

Born 1975, in Richmond (British Columbia).

Painter, sculptor, printmaker, photographer.

The aesthetic of Sonny Assu (Liǥwilda’x̱w/Laich-kwil-tach) is a confluence of Northwest Coast formline motifs and popular Western culture. He is well versed in the traditional Kwakwaka’wakw arts of drum, blanket and basket making and uses these as the starting place of many of his artworks. Drawing on a pop sensibility, mass-media culture is used as a conduit to explore and expose these Kwakwaka’wakw traditions as well as the artist’s own mixed heritage. By bringing these seemingly desperate elements together, Assu’s works challenge popular notions of authenticity regarding Indigenous people and their art. Moreover, while the works may appear whimsical at first glance, they offer a sharp critique of Western society’s culture of consumption as it relates to colonisation, both historical and ongoing, in North America....

Article

Native American (Wiyot and Yurok), 20th–21st century, male.

Born 1946, in Newport (Oregon).

Sculptor, painter, ceramicist, mixed-media artist, print-maker.

Rick Bartow of the Wiyot and Yurok Nations of Northern California works in a number of media to create images which often reference indigenous North American transformation myths. His work with the Maori artist John Bevan Ford has also been an influence. In ...

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Canadian First Nations (Anishinaabe), 20th century, female.

Born 22 March 1960, in Upsala (Ontario).

Performance artist, installation artist, sculptor, video artist.

Rebecca Belmore was sent from her home to attend high school in Thunder Bay (Ontario), where she was billeted with a non-Aboriginal family. She graduated from the experimental art programme at Toronto’s Ontario College of Art and Design in ...

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Canadian First Nations (Micmac/Mi’kmaq), 21st century, male.

Born 1986, in Stephenville Crossing (Newfoundland).

Performance artist, installation artist, sculptor, painter.

Jordan Bennett is a multimedia artist born and raised in Newfoundland. In 2008 he received a BA in Fine Arts from Sir Wilfred Grenfell College (Corner Brook, Newfoundland), and later continued his education with anthropology and art history courses at the same college. Bennett describes himself as a ‘multi-disciplinary’ artist who liberally mixes visual and intellectual references from his own tribal background, intertribal issues, popular cultures and politics, Bennett conveys with buoyant vitality messages related to Canadian Aboriginal peoples that he feels are hard to communicate to the general public. Bennett’s artistic strategy is a direct engagement with the audience, which aims at stimulating interest and generating curiosity about indigenous issues and concerns such as treaty rights, land rights, cultural change and language loss. Directly engaged in recovering his native language (Micmac), Bennett exploits the multi-layered nature of the linguistic sign to reveal the variety of meanings that symbols can carry in different contexts. His re-fashioning of consumer products such as skateboards, Mac computers, turntables, shoes and surfboards turns mass production into quintessentially indigenous manufacturing that triggers in the viewer questions about authenticity and identity at the core of his artistic project. The indigenisation of commercial objects becomes an act of translation, which turns personal experience into political statements through the potential of objects to become catalysts for intercultural dialogues in public spaces as much as in the art gallery....

Article

Martine Reid

(b Masset, Queen Charlotte Islands, BC, Nov 4, 1946).

Native American Haida sculptor, metalworker, printmaker and blanket-maker. He was the grandson of the Haida blanket- and basket-maker Florence Davidson (1895–1993), and great-grandson of the Haida wood-carver Charles Edenshaw. He began carving argillite as a teenager in Masset, and in 1966 he met Bill Reid, who offered him workshop space in Vancouver. There Davidson developed new carving skills and learnt the fundamentals of the two-dimensional (‘formline’) designs used by the Haida and other tribes of the northern Northwest Coast (see Native North American art, §III, 2). In 1969 he returned to Masset to carve a 12.2 m-high totem pole, the first heraldic column to be raised on the Queen Charlotte Islands since the end of the 19th century. In 1987 Davidson and his crew produced a set of three totem poles entitled Three Variations on Killer Whale Myths for the Pepsicola Sculptural Garden in Purchase, NY. In these totem poles Davidson worked within the strict conventions of the Haida style, refining it by introducing subtle variations in design but preserving a degree of conservative austerity in which movement and individual expression are sacrificed to overall unity of form. In his early work in silver Davidson used flat patterns influenced by Edenshaw, and he went on to develop these into an innovative style of his own in screenprints, silver and bronze. Davidson’s younger brother, ...

Article

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

Born 1952, in Toronto.

Sculptor, performance artist, multimedia artist, installation artist.

A member of the Serpent River First Nation, Bonnie Devine is a Canadian Ojibwa artist, writer and curator. She studied at the Ontario College of Art and Design in ...

Article

American and Native American (Cherokee), 20th century, male.

Active in Germany.

Born 1940, in Arkansas.

Sculptor, sculptor of assemblages, collage artist, installation artist, draughtsman, essayist, and poet.

Jimmie Durham is a critically acclaimed international Native American artist of Cherokee descent whose works often combine humour, found objects, and references to the historical past in sculptural installations that challenge the reigning perceptions of American Indian peoples and their histories. His distinguished career includes participation in five separate Venice Biennales, and examples of his work have been shown widely in Europe and across the globe. He began working as a sculptor in ...

Article

John-Paul Stonard

(b Washington, AR, July 10, 1940).

Native American Cherokee sculptor, performance artist, and video artist. In 1968 he moved to Geneva, where he attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1972. After his return to the USA he lived on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota and played an active part in the American Indian Movement; he also served from 1975 to 1979 as the executive director of the International Indian Treaty Council in New York. He left both organizations in 1980. Durham’s sculptures and installations can be seen against a background of activism, in which he records the plight of Native Americans in the face of Western colonial culture. His sculptures, bricolages of found objects, often take the form of vivid anthropomorphic constructions, appearing as ironic fetishes in an ethnographic display. Durham often includes words that provide witty if inconclusive suggestions of the type of protest that he is staging, as in the wall-mounted work ...

Article

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

Born 1953, in Omak, Washington.

Printmaker, muralist, sculptor, mixed-media artist. Collage, glass.

Born in 1953, Joe Feddersen is an Okanagan member of the Colville Confederated Tribes, and a Native American artist. He earned his BFA at the University of Washington (...

Article

W. Jackson Rushing III

(b Sacramento, CA, Jan 5, 1946; d Santa Fe, NM, Dec 28, 2006).

Native American painter, printmaker and sculptor of Maidu, Hawaiian and Portuguese ancestry. Raised in Northern California, Fonseca studied at Sacramento City College and at California State University at Sacramento with Wintu artist Frank LaPena (b 1937). A leading figure in the national network of contemporary native artists that formed in the early to mid-1970s, Fonseca received the Best of Show Award in the Indian Art Now exhibition at the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, Sante Fe, NM, in 1979. Many honors followed, including the Allan Houser Memorial Award and an Eiteljorg Museum Fellowship for Native American Fine Art, both in 2005. Inspired by mythology, pictography and modernism, he explored oral history, media imagery and popular culture through figuration and abstraction.

Fonseca’s earliest imagery transformed indigenous designs and material culture. His Maidu Creation Story (1977) was the first of several treatments (1991, 2006) of subject matter based on the teachings of his uncle, Henry Azbill. The quiet, folkish elegance and pristine primitivism of his drawings for the anthology ...

Article

Canadian First Nations (Oneida), 20th–21st century, male.

Born 1950, in Oshweken (in Ontario).

Sculptor (stone/bronze/wood). Masks, jewellery.

David General grew up on the Grand River Reserve in Southern Ontario. He worked as a schoolteacher before deciding to become an artist after a trip to the Manitoulin Island Reserve, which inspired him to use visual art to promote his Native American heritage. He is a self-taught artist and briefly worked as a painter before turning exclusively to sculpture in the mid-1970s after meeting Bill Reid. Throughout his career he has been heavily involved in working for First Nations (Native American) rights: he co-founded and chaired the Society of Canadian Artists of Native Ancestry (SCANA), has been the coordinator for the Department of Indian Affairs art collection and was an elected representative, and latterly Chief (...

Article

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

Born 31 March 1972, in Colorado.

Painter, sculptor, mixed-media artist.

Jeffrey Gibson received a BFA from the Art Institute of Chicago (1995) and an MFA from the Royal College of Art (1998), which was funded by his tribal group, the Mississippi Band of the Choctaw Nation. Since ...

Article

Native American (Diné/Navajo), 20st century, male.

Born 1932, in Chinle (Arizona); died 2005, in Albuquerque.

Painter, sculptor, lithographer.

Navajo painter and sculptor R. C. Gorman was one of Native North America’s most influential artists of the 20th century. Owing his great commercial success to a deceptively simple style, Gorman was among those who marked through their art the transition between the so-called ‘Traditional painting’ and the generation of ‘New Indian Painters’. Deeply influencing numerous indigenous and Euro-American artists alike, Gorman contributed to the popularisation of Southwestern motifs, themes and aesthetics, establishing a clearly identifiable genre that makes economic use of lines and volumes....

Article

Arthur Silberman

(b Chinle, AZ, July 26, 1932).

Native American Navajo painter, printmaker and sculptor. After attending Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, where he majored in literature and minored in art, he received a scholarship in 1958 from the Navajo Tribal Council to study art at Mexico City College. He also studied at San Francisco State University and at other California institutions. The style that he developed stemmed from his experiences in Mexico and reveals the influence of his teachers as well as that of the Mexican muralists. He maintained a studio and gallery for his own works and those of other Native American artists in Taos, NM. While Gorman has handled such subject-matter as interpretations of Navajo rugs and pottery designs, his most successful and best-received works have been his studies of Navajo women. He portrayed them as archetypes; as monumental, nurturing ‘earth mothers’. He grouped women in conventional poses or engaged in domestic pursuits, ranging from stolid affirmations to revelations of inner beauty and grace. He used various media, sometimes painting and drawing in acrylics, pastels and pencil in the same work. He worked out personal technical processes and used these with great effectiveness. His style is well-suited to lithographs, which he has produced in great number. He has also produced sculptures....

Article

Native American (Eastern Band of Cherokee), 20th–21st century, female.

Born 1957, in Baltimore.

Multimedia artist, photographer, illustrator, basket-weaver with paper.

Shan Goshorn, given the Cherokee Wolf Clan name of Yellow Moon, began training in silversmithing at the Cleveland Institute of Art and transferred to the Atlanta College of Art for her final year, receiving a BFA degree in painting and photography (double major) in ...

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Native American (Warm Springs Chiricahua Apache), 20th–21st century, male.

Born 1 April 1943, in Los Angeles.

Sculptor, painter, printmaker, jewellery maker.

The Chiricahua Apache artist Bob Haozous, son of the well-known Apache sculptor Allan Houser (Haozous is the indigenous name which became Houser when anglicised), is a noted figure in his own right, having the distinction of contributing work to two Venice Biennales (...

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 (...