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Arthur Silberman

(d White Cone, AZ, Nov 15, 1917).

Native American Navajo painter. Begay was a prolific artist for over 50 years, and his work is familiar through paintings, book illustrations and screenprints, making him perhaps the best-known contemporary Native American painter. In 1934 he entered the Santa Fe Indian School (see Native North American art, §IV, 2) and joined the ‘Studio’ of Dorothy Dunn (1903–1990), where he was one of Dunn’s star students. In 1939, the year of his graduation, he painted one of the murals on the façade of Maisel’s trading post in Albuquerque, NM. With a scholarship from the Indian Commission, he went on to study architecture at Black Mountain College, NC.. Due to the public’s ready acceptance of his paintings, after his return from military service in World War II he became one of the first Native American artists to support himself by painting full-time. Widely exhibited, he was a consistent award-winner at exhibitions, and his work has been included in every important public and private collection of Native American art. In recognition of his contributions to Native American art he was awarded the French government’s Palmes Académiques in ...

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 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

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

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

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

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....