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Charlotte Townsend-Gault

(b Upsala, Ontario, March 22, 1960).

Native American, Canadian installation and performance artist of Anishinabe descent. She attended the Ontario College of Art and Design, Toronto (1984–6), emerging among newly visible and influential First Nations figures in the arts in Canada whose work focused on the social, political and historical issues associated with their ethnic identity. The period was marked by the acknowledgement of aboriginal rights in the amended 1982 Canadian Constitution and by confrontations, sometimes violent, between indigenous people and the authorities over the nature and extent of those rights. Outrage at the tragic consequences of the historical marginalisation of native people and determination to recover their voice has always informed Belmore’s work. In the iconic Talking to their Mother (1991), which brought her wide attention, she travelled to Native American communities with an enormous, finely crafted wooden megaphone, literally giving people a voice with which to speak to their land....

Article

Margaret Moore Booker

(b Cow Springs, AZ, March 21, 1946).

Native American potter. The daughter of famed Navajo potter Rose Williams, Cling broke with tradition by creating highly polished, red-hued decorative ware in a contemporary style that ushered in a new generation of Navajo art potters (including her two sisters).

After graduating from the Intermountain Indian School in Brigham City, UT, she married Jerry Cling and worked as a teacher’s aide at the Shonto Boarding School. Initially learning to pot from her mother while a young girl, she became interested in the craft in the 1970s and over time developed an innovative style that reflected her own individual vision.

Cling used the traditional method of coiling and pinching clay into the desired form, then sanded, polished and coated her pottery with piñon pitch. She worked in the small communal room of her home in the Shonto-Cow Springs region of Arizona, watched by her mother, who lived across the highway. Her pots were fired outdoors in an open pit with juniper wood (and sometimes sheep manure) for fuel....

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

G. Lola Worthington

(b Wichita, KS, Nov 22, 1954).

Native American (Cheyenne–Arapaho) conceptual and performance artist. Creating ethnic commentary with introspective perceptions and communiqués of contemporary indigenous political frames of context, Heap of Birds demonstrated his analysis of colonized relationships and their aftermath. In his works unspoken rules and relationships between Native Americans and colonizers are deliberately provoked and questioned (see, for example, Day/Night, 1991). He candidly confronts stereotypes and the essential meaning of “Native” identity in legal and colonialist terms.

He earned his BFA at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS (1976), and afterwards studied at the Royal College of Art, London (1976–7). In 1979, the Tyler School of Art at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA awarded him an MFA. Early works combined his enthusiasm for juxtaposed graphic images with text on sheet metal. Combining visual and linguistical representations, he offered fresh and provoking political commentary. His works were temporary and retained by a series of noted photographs taken during the performance event. He voiced questions between Native Americans and non-Native Americans about the precarious relationships of ethnic perception in modern day America....

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

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

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

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

(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

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

G. Lola Worthington

[ Running Rabbit ]

(b Lodge Grass, Crow Reservation, MT, Oct 9, 1943).

Native American (Crow) painter. His parents, both traditional Native artists, provided a nurturing artistic environment to assist his early developing talents. His outstanding expressive abilities enabled his selection as one of the first 150 students to attend the experimental American Indian Institute for the Arts (IAIA) in 1962–5. There he learned art fundamentals from the finest and most famous of Native American teachers. He was subsequently awarded a scholarship from the San Francisco Art Institute (1965–6) and completed his studies at Montana State University in Bozeman and Eastern Montana College in Billings (1968–9). He returned to IAIA in 1974 as an Artist-in-Residence, beginning his initial inquiry into stone lithography, serigraphy and etching print work.

Intensely brilliant primary colors and allegorical lighting are hallmarks of his approach. A mix of culture and history, past and present, evoke images of his ancestral Crow tribe through exaggerated features and haunting eyes. Canvases incorporate integrated materials for a deeper tactile veneer. Hand finished acrylic paint and ink incorporate collage materials to add deeper effects on the canvas. Dimensional surfaces evoke deeper associations in the observer’s experience. Paintings and prints devised by Red Star create evocative imagery and emotional authentic connections equal to other international art movements. A pivotal figure in contemporary Native American art he depicts his subjects in exaggerated colors and costuming, but remains true to his Northern Plains background. His work is not political in content, but instead records the familiar history of his Crow Nation....

Article

Frederick J. Dockstader

(b Albuquerque, NM, May 25, 1948).

Native American Hopi weaver and painter. The daughter of an Anglo mother and a Hopi father, she is one of the most complicated personalities in contemporary Native American art. She attended Santa Fe School and Verde Valley School but did not enter the world of art until 1982. Her interest in exploring ancient as well as modern techniques has led her into the intricacies of a turkey feather cape and of an Inca shawl. In company with the few other weavers deeply concerned with their craft, she valued the involvement of the preparation of the handspun and dyed yarn as much as the execution of the weaving. She adopted the horizontal loom in order to facilitate her experimental work. She has also taught and lectured on various facets of textile art. A commission to turn the designs of Frank Lloyd Wright into textiles was echoed in her own Wright series, although the two are from totally different generations. Many of her designs combine Modernist elements with traditional motifs, as in ...

Article

Frederick J. Dockstader

[‘Insightful Awareness’]

(b St Ignatius, Flathead Reservation, MT, 1940).

Native American Cree–Métis–Shoshoni painter and printmaker. Her name comes from her Shoshoni grandmother. She took the Famous American Art Course in high school, then eventually earned an AA degree at Olympic College, Bremerton, WA; a BA degree at Framingham State College, MA; and an MFA degree at the University of New Mexico. Her paintings include work in nearly every medium, but she favours oil and acrylic. Although her Indian identity is central to her art, works like Tree of Life (1987; Jersey City, NJ, Mus.) reveal a modernist identity as well. She was heavily influenced by the formal innovations of artists ranging from Joan Miró, Paul Klee, and Vasily Kandinsky to Jackson Pollock, Robert Rauschenberg, and Jasper Johns. Her work, which she termed ‘nomad art’, varies tremendously in both quality and subject matter, but there is no doubt that from the 1980s she has been one of the most influential figures of Native North American art. She has curated dozens of exhibits featuring Native American artists, exhibited widely and enjoyed national recognition. An articulate speaker, she has been an outspoken activist for feminist, human rights, and environmental causes, and her art reflects these concerns, as in ...

Article

Celia Stahr

(b Phoenix, AZ, Aug 26, 1954).

Native American (Seminole–Muskogee–Diné (Navajo)) photographer, video and installation artist . While living on a Navajo reservation in the 1960s, Tsinhnahjinnie was prompted to think about the power of images after looking at A House of Human Bondage, which showed the poor living conditions that black South Africans were subjected to under the apartheid system, photographs that reminded her of the bleak existence of Native Americans. This led her to attend the Institute of American Indian Art from 1975 to 1978. She received a BFA from the California College of the Arts (1981) and an MFA from the University of California, Irvine (2002). She went on to teach at the University of California, Davis.

Realizing that Native Americans had been defined by photographs taken by non-Natives, Tsinhnahjinnie wanted to create photographs of Native Americans from an insider’s perspective; to reclaim her own culture, history and identity. In 1988...

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....