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Article

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

G. Lola Worthington

[Hashke-yil-e-dale]

(b Utah, 1938; d 1972).

Native American (Navajo) painter. His mother recognized his artistic talents early on and strongly encouraged and cultivated his creative genius by enrolling him at the Intermountain Indian School in Brigham, UT, where he was a student of Chiricahua painter and sculptor, Allan Houser (1914–94).

Enlisting in the US Army, from 1958 to 1961, Chee was assigned to paint several murals instead of regular duties. After his discharge, he began a full-time artistic career. A key post-World War II Southwestern painter, his work influenced other Indian artists. His unique style depicts traditional subjects with a modern Navajo outlook in his favorite media, watercolor.

Chee’s painting technique reflects the “Studio” style of Dorothy Dunn (1903–91). Flat-backgrounds, Indian-styled themes, bright colors characterize the Studio painting format. Expanding upon the Studio style, Chee began arranging his subjects in clustered groupings, only hinting at a background with a few suggestive, lively lines. Arranging his central figures with intimacy and detail, he sensitively portrayed and highlighted their character....

Article

G. Lola Worthington

(b Wheatfield-Sonsela, AZ, June 17, 1912; d Albuquerque, NM, 1992).

Native American (Navajo) painter. Also known as Hashke-yil-e-dale, Dodge was the son of Bitanny Dodge and grandson of Chee Dodge, the first Navajo Tribal Chairman, who raised him and sent him to Bacone College, Muskogee, OK, and the University of New Mexico, where Dodge earned a degree in anthropology in 1933. He earned a master’s degree in Comparative Linguistics and Anthropology, at Columbia University, in 1935.

During World War II, Dodge was a Code Talker in the South Pacific. Injured after four years in battle, he recuperated from his injuries and began to sketch and paint Navajo history, illustrating the cultural and religious systems from the viewpoint of a Navajo. He believed his paintings offered vital information and explanations to prevent the loss of Navajo ceremonial chants and religious traditions.

Entirely self-taught, he actively began to paint in 1954 and selected specific symbols, colors and stories to best express Navajo practices. Each subject, color, dot or feather, accompanied by his personal insight, symbolically preserved his subjects. Horses, maidens, dancers and swirls reflected balance in his compositions. Intuitive, graceful lines, colors, forms and his subject’s appeal reveal truthful honest representations. The bluebird, symbolic of the Eastern Seagoing people, and the flying swallow, symbolic of the Western Swallow people, were included in his paintings. Mixing neutral background with active flourishes, mysterious uncanny counter color and symbolic graphic line work, his paintings are thrilling and awe-inspiring....

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

[Tsa-sah-wee-eh: ‘Little Standing Spruce’]

(b Albuquerque, NM, May 28, 1943; d June 9, 1984).

Native American Pueblo painter of Santa Clara, NM. Her father was Herbert O. Hardin, an Anglo, and her mother was the Pueblo painter Pablita Velarde. She attended high school in Albuquerque, NM, and was awarded an Indian Art project scholarship in 1960, which influenced her decision to turn to art as a career. By the late 1960s she had developed a highly successful style. She worked in acrylics, casein, pen and ink, and just before her untimely death, of cancer, she had begun a series of etchings. After leaving Santa Clara Pueblo she lived most of her life in Española, NM. She had a brief marriage to Pat Terrazas, which ended in divorce, and later married Cradoc Bagshaw, a Santa Fe Anglo photographer. Greatly influenced by her mother, and even more so by Joe Hilario Herrera, a noted Cochití artist and son of Tonita Peña, Hardin became one of the most widely known Pueblo painters. Her early focus was the usual genre form, but in ...

Article

Arthur Silberman

[Ma-Pe-Wi]

(b Zia Pueblo, NM, Oct 22, 1902; d Santa Fe, NM, Jan 18, 1973).

Native American Pueblo painter. He was a student at the Santa Fe Indian School (see Native North American art, §IV, 2) in 1918 when Elizabeth DeHuff (1887–1983), wife of the school superintendent, invited him and several other students, including Kabotie, Fred and Otis Polelonema (1902–1981), to spend afternoons painting in her living room. After a showing at the Museum of New Mexico, the work was exhibited at the Annual Exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists in New York in 1920. Extensive press coverage stimulated so much interest that, in effect, the early Santa Fe Native American art movement was thus launched. Thereafter, Herrera’s paintings were widely exhibited throughout the US and Europe. He illustrated several books, including educational material for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. In 1939 he painted murals in the Department of Interior Building in Washington, DC, and in 1954 he was awarded the French government’s Palmes d’Académiques for his contribution to Native American art. Herrera constantly developed and added to his skills. He came to excel in realistic compositions displaying a command of perspective and modelling, fine detail and sensitive portraiture. His inventive abstract compositions, based on traditional Pueblo symbolism, were emulated by many other artists. Nevertheless, through most of his life he was estranged from his native ...

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

Arthur Silberman

(b Joe Creek, SD, May 13, 1915; d Vermillion, SD, Oct 17, 1986).

Native American Sioux painter. He attended the Santa Fe Indian School (see Native North American art, §IV, 2), from which he graduated in 1938. Even before graduation his work was already exhibited widely in the US and Europe, and in 1940 he obtained a commission from the Works Progress Administration, the US government depression era relief programme, to decorate the ceiling of the Mitchell Library in South Dakota. After finishing his next commission, ten panels in the City Auditorium of Mowbridge, SD, he reported for military service during World War II. He earned a BA degree from Dakota Wesleyan University and an MFA degree from the University of Oklahoma. In 1957 he was appointed Assistant Professor of Fine Arts at the University of South Dakota. Howe’s early work was descriptively realistic. In the early 1950s he developed a style based on Cubism. Using as subject-matter the range of Dakota philosophic and mystical experience, he sought to convey its essence through restructured planes and colouristic effects. Although his approach was revolutionary for Native American art at the time, he stated that he had no iconoclastic intentions. On the contrary, he maintained that his purpose was to carry on the traditional and conventional in Native American art. 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

Arthur Silberman

(b Shungopori, AZ, c. 1900; d Feb 28, 1986).

Native American Hopi painter. He was born into a farming family and educated in traditional Hopi customs. As a child he scratched images of kachinas (supernatural beings) on rocks in his father’s field. He continued to draw such images when he attended the Santa Fe Indian School (see Native North American art, §IV, 2), later claiming that he did so to relieve his loneliness and to remind him of home. In 1918 he joined the informal painting sessions given at the school by Elizabeth DeHuff (1887–1983). Kabotie became one of the first Hopi artists to gain national recognition when in 1920 his work was shown at the annual exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists in New York City. He was at his most productive in the 1920s and 1930s, executing such works as the Snake Dance (watercolour, c. 1922–30; New York, N. Mus. Amer. Ind.). His descriptive manner of shading and modelling, close attention to detail, meticulous brushwork and sophisticated use of and emphasis on colour became distinctive features of later Hopi painting. Kabotie also used traditional Native American techniques, such as painting on hides. 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

Deborah A. Middleton

Ruled book used for recording accounts used by Native Americans in late 19th century as a paper source for colorful drawings. The emergence of ledger book art is considered to be a material culture link corresponding to the forced relocation of Plains tribes to government reservations in the 19th century. In the early 1860s Plains Indians acquired Western made papers in the form of ledger books and target books, as well as pens, watercolors, graphite and colored pencils, acquired through trade and as proceeds from battles with the American Army, in which they drew scenes that chronicled their experience and cultural traditions. During this early period, the demand for ledger book drawing was high among white settlers who viewed them as curiosities and souvenirs. Contemporary research on Plains Indians ledger book art is challenged by dispersed collections and the fragile and delicate material condition of ledger books due to poor quality paper and bindings. The dismantling of ledger books by art dealers seeking to gain economic profits is the largest threat to preserving these artworks and enabling future research on specific ledger book artists....

Article

Jonathan Batkin

Native American artists. Julian Martinez (b San Ildefonso Pueblo, NM, 1885; d San Ildefonso Pueblo, 1943) and his wife, Maria Martinez [née Montoya] (b San Ildefonso Pueblo, 1887; d San Ildefonso Pueblo, 1980), made and decorated pottery in San Ildefonso Pueblo, NM; in all their work together Maria was the potter and Julian the painter. Maria first learnt pottery-making from her aunt Nicolasa Peña Montoya (1863–1904) in the early 20th century. There were few other potters at the Tewa pueblo of San Ildefonso. In 1907 the newly founded School of American Archaeology (now School of American Research, Santa Fe, NM) began excavations in nearby Rio de los Frijoles canyon, whose sites are ancestral to the people of San Ildefonso. Maria was among the people of San Ildefonso hired to assist with the examination of excavated sherds, and she was encouraged by Edgar Lee Hewett (...

Article

Arthur Silberman

(b near Redstone, OK, Aug 28, 1900; d Anadarko, OK, Feb 14, 1974).

Native American Kiowa painter. He was brought up with full opportunity to participate in Kiowa religious and cultural life. In his youth, the Feather Dance (the Kiowa version of the Ghost Dance) was still being practised, with symbolic imagery on clothing. The Peyote religion, with its strong designs and colour visions, was also important. Mopope’s first art teachers were his great-uncles Ohettoint (Oheltoint, Charles O. Buffalo; 1852–1934), a former Fort Marion prisoner (see Native North American art, §IV, 2, (i)), and Silverhorn. He helped Ohettoint, Silverhorn, and others of the family in painting a new version of the ‘Tipi with Battle Pictures‘ (1916–18; destr.; original tipi design, c. 1840; model of original by Ohettoint, 1890s, see Ewers), and was one of a group of young Kiowas encouraged to draw and paint by Suzie Peters (1873–1965), a government field matron. Years later, in 1927, she secured their admission to the University of Oklahoma as non-matriculated art students. Oscar B. Jacobson (...

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

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....