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Article

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

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

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

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

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

Frederick J. Dockstader

[Cheah Sequah: ‘Red Bird’]

(b Muskogee, OK, Dec 19, 1930).

Native American Creek–Cherokee painter and sculptor. Her father, William McKinley Hill, and mother, Winnie Dixie Harris, were both Creek–Cherokee. She attended elementary and high school, then Muskogee College for an AA degree, and Northeastern College for a BA (1952). She studied under various artists, including Richard West at Bacone College, Frederic Taubes (1900–82), Millard Sheets (1907–89) and Dong Kingman. Much of her later painting reflects this training. Her family included George Washington Hill, Chief of the Creek Nation, 1925–8, a background giving her work unusual fidelity. She taught briefly, but retired to paint full-time in Muskogee. She is one of the few Native American women artists to achieve success and has been a strong influence on younger women. She has been the recipient of many awards and prizes for works in almost every medium, including sculpture and collage. As a teacher she has provided a strong influence for her students and devotes considerable time to younger artists. For a decade, ...

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

Arthur Silberman

[Ha-o-zous]

(b Apache, OK, June 30, 1914; d Santa Fe, NM, Aug 22, 1994).

Native American painter and sculptor. He was the son of a Chiricahua Apache (originally from Colorado and New Mexico) family who settled in Oklahoma after release from captivity at Fort Sill in 1913. As a young boy he received a full education in Chiricahua Apache customs. He later attended the Santa Fe Indian School and studied painting with Dorothy Dunn (1903–91). In 1936 he received the Arts and Crafts Award for the best work produced by a student. After graduation, he gained additional experience in oil, casein, and egg tempera painting and in fresco and secco mural techniques. His early paintings were scenes of Apache ceremonial and social life in the flat, controlled style of the Santa Fe Indian School, which also revealed his skill as a draughtsman. He painted a number of murals, including the extant series illustrating Apache dancers and people on horseback for the Department of the Interior Building in Washington, DC (...

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

Margaret Moore Booker

(b Hermiston, OR, 1946).

Native American sculptor and painter. A master sculptor of monumental and smaller works, Hyde’s work reflects his Native American ancestry (Nez Perce, Assiniboine and Chippewa). After spending much of his childhood on the Nez Perce Reservation in Idaho, Hyde attended the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) high school arts program in Santa Fe, NM, where he studied with jeweler Charles Loloma (1921–91), ceramic instructor Ottilie Loloma and famed Chiricahua sculptor Allan Houser (1914–94). Following graduation in 1966, he attended the San Francisco Art Institute (1969–71) on a scholarship and then enlisted in the US Army (1968–9). He was wounded during a tour of duty in Vietnam and while recuperating learned to work stone with power tools in a friend’s tombstone business in Lewiston, ID.

He returned to Santa Fe to teach at IAIA (1971–4) and began his career in sculpture. In his first solo show, at the Museum of the Plains Indians in Browning, MT, in ...

Article

Martine Reid

[Jameson, Charles; Yakuglas]

(b Port Townsend, WA, c. 1870; d Alert Bay, BC, 1938).

Native American Kwakiutl wood-carver. He was the son of Kugwisi’la’ogwa, a Kwakiutl woman from Fort Rupert, BC, and a white American sawmill owner from Port Townsend. When his mother died in 1877, he was adopted by her tribe and inherited the right to work as a wood-carver, receiving training from a kinsman. As a child, James’s left hand was injured in a shotgun accident, and he probably began carving because he was unable to participate in other activities. He was one of the first Kwakiutl wood-carvers to establish a reputation outside his own society, and he is best known for the hundreds of small totem poles he carved for sale to non-natives in the last 20–30 years of his life. James also produced traditional objects, including totem poles and masks, for use in potlatches and other Kwakiutl social events. The mask of Sisiutl, the dangerous ‘double-headed serpent’ (before 1914; Victoria, BC, Prov. Mus.), for example, was used in the Tlásulá (‘weasel dance’), one of the two principal ceremonial complexes in Kwakiutl society. James was instrumental in establishing what might be termed the Fort Rupert substyle of Southern Kwakiutl art, introducing new forms and the use of colour (...

Article

Clint Burnham

(b Fort St John, BC, April 29, 1970).

First Nations (aboriginal) sculptor. Jungen’s work uses consumer products refashioned into sculptures and installations that comment on the relationships between native design, commodity production, and popular culture. Born of a Dunne-za mother and Swiss father, he attended the Emily Carr Institute in Vancouver in the early 1990s, there coming into contact with the artist-run centre scene that became an important part of his creative milieu.

Jungen’s first series of works that attracted international attention was the Prototype for New Understanding (1999–2005; see Prototype for New Understanding #23, 2005), 23 sculptures for which he cut up Nike Air Jordan sneakers and made them into simulacra of West Coast tribal masks and displayed them in vitrines. The importance of this series is manifold: it references youth culture of the 1980s and 1990s with its fixation on expensive sportswear and the signifiers of hiphop; it connects that commodification to the trade in tribal masks over the previous century, a trade that saw native carvers in the Pacific Northwest making masks for a global collecting and museum market; and, finally, it relates design elements of the Nike sneakers—not only the trademark ‘swoosh’ but also the eyelets, soles, and the colour schemes—to traditional native carving practice. So the Nike swoosh becomes part of an ovoid (the signature graphic feature of Haida—Northwest Coast—art), or, the top of the sneaker becomes a mouth, as seen in ...

Article

[Wildfire]

(b New York, 1845; d after 1911).

American sculptor. Born to an African American father and a Native American mother, she was the first black American sculptor to achieve national prominence. During her early childhood she travelled with her family in the Chippewa tribe, by whom she was known as Wildfire. At 12 she attended school at Albany, NY (1857–9), then a liberal arts course at Oberlin College, OH (1860–63). Lewis then went to Boston (1863) to study with Edward Brackett (1818–1908) and Anne Whitney. Her medallion of the abolitionist John Browne and a bust of the Civil War hero Col. Robert Shaw were exhibited at the Soldiers’ Relief Fair (1864), Boston; the latter sold over 100 plaster copies, enabling Lewis to travel to Rome (1865). There she was introduced to the White Marmorean Flock, a group of women sculptors, including Harriet Hosmer and Emma Stebbins...

Article

(b New York, May 27, 1944).

American sculptor, draughtsman, film maker, and environmental artist. As a child she was taken by her father on many visits to early forts, Native American sites, and abandoned mines. In Stuttgart with her family she saw the remains of demolished buildings as well as medieval towns and castle ruins, which left a strong impression. She studied at the University of California, Santa Barbara (BA, 1966), and at the Rhine Art School of Sculpture, Maryland Art Institute, Baltimore (MFA, 1968). On a summer sculpture course at Colorado College, Colorado Springs (1963), she became aware of the work of John Cage, Robert Rauschenberg, and Robert Morris, and of ideas initiated by contemporary Minimalist sculptors and land artists. Her early landscape works dealt primarily with the measurement of distances in relation to a specific location in a temporal work: for example, Untitled (wood, 12×6 ft [3.66×1.83 m] sections at 50 ft [15.25 m] intervals, ...

Article

Frederick J. Dockstader

[Kivetoruk: ‘Bark Dye’]

(b nr Cape Espenberger, AK, Feb 10, 1903; d Nome, AK, 1982).

Native American Inupiat painter and carver. His father, Kivoluk, a well-known hunter and trapper, established a string of whaling stations along the Arctic coast, but both of Moses’s parents died when he was young. He was brought up by an uncle, who taught him hunting and trapping. He attended elementary school at Shishmaref, AK, the famous carving centre. Although his sketches of Eskimo life became highly popular, he felt he could do better financially as a trapper and hunter, and abandoned art. He married Bessie Ahgupuk, of the celebrated Ahgupuk family of sculptors and painters, in 1932; they had two sons, Charles and James. He took up sketching again in 1953 while recuperating from a plane crash. At first his work was primarily pen and ink on sealskin, but he branched out over the years, and in time became the best-known artist in Nome, AK. He turned to full-time art production in ...

Article

Navajo  

Margaret Moore Booker

Tribe of Native Americans who call themselves Diné (“the people”) and whose Dinetah (homelands) are situated on a c. 15 million-acre-reservation in northeastern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico and southern Utah. The Navajo have rich artistic traditions in the Southwest dating back at least five centuries. Greatly influenced by Pueblo Indians of the region, the Navajo made textiles, basketry and pottery for utilitarian and religious purposes. Traditionally, it was the Navajo women who made pottery and wove textiles, while the men were silversmiths. The latter, who learned this art from the Spanish, led the way in the development of silver and turquoise jewelry in the Southwest. Their forms and decorative styles influenced other Native American jewelers.

The Navajo excel at weaving. Their earliest works were woolen blankets made on an upright loom and meant to be worn. After trading posts were established on the reservation in the early 1870s, the traders encouraged the Navajo to weave heavier textiles that could serve as rugs. Often given materials and designs by the traders to follow, the Navajo weavers made their own adaptations that evolved into the exquisite rugs they are famous for. A wide range of patterns and colors and a number of distinct regional styles exist (...

Article

Martine Reid

[Smoky-Top; Hilamas]

(b Blunden Harbour, BC, c. 1873; d Blunden Harbour, 1967).

Native American Kwakiutl wood-carver. Hereditary chief of the ’Nak’waxda’wx lineage, he was the most distinctive of Kwakiutl carvers. He carved the full range of objects used in Southern Kwakiutl society, from totem poles and painted house-fronts to masks and whistles, as well as miniature totem poles for sale to non-natives.

Seaweed’s early pieces reflected the more restrained, classic style that typified Southern Kwakiutl carving of the late 19th century. By the 1940s he had developed a flamboyant style that later became associated with wood-carvers of the Blunden Harbour–Smith Inlet region (see ). These later works are marked by a clarity in painted design and carved planes, an emphasis on the treatment of the eye and nostrils and a dramatic expression, but were still within the design tradition of the Northwest Coast. At first Seaweed prepared his own paints by adding pigments to fish-egg oil, using them to create a soft, matt finish, but from the 1930s he adopted commercial enamel paints, which served to enhance the theatrical effect of his work. The compass, used by other carvers of the region, enabled Seaweed to draw the distinctive eye area and to incorporate arcs and circles into the designs of his carvings. His work culminated in the production of dance masks such as the ‘monster-bird’ masks used in the ...

Article

Imre Nagy

[ Dick ] [Wah-Pah-Nah-Yah: ‘Lightfoot Runner’]

(b Darlington, OK, Sept 8, 1912; d 1996).

Native American Cheyenne painter and sculptor . He studied at the Haskell Institute, Lawrence, KS, from 1931 until 1936, then at the Bacone Junior College, Muskogee, OK, from 1936 until 1938. He received a BA degree at the University of Oklahoma, Norman, in 1941. Between 1941 and 1942 he taught as an art instructor at the Phoenix Indian School, AZ, and, after a period in the US Navy, again from 1946 until 1948. In 1947 he was appointed director of the Art Department at Bacone Junior College, a position he held until 1970. His paintings depict the traditional Plains Indian life and ancient ceremonies in a strong linear style and bold colours. He also worked as a muralist, providing murals for the U.S. Post Office, Okemah, OK (1941), the Bacone College (1963) and the North Campus of the University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK. His Southern Cheyenne Sun Dance, the Great Medicine Lodge Ceremony...

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....