Some Contemporary Native Artists
It's a good week to look at art, and a good week to keep these artists in mind
Even in non-pandemic years, Thanksgiving can be pretty complicated. Yes, it’s great to get together with friends and family, and it’s good to be thankful, and eating rude amounts of food totally rules; but the mythology around the capital-letter First Thanksgiving also highlights, if you’re paying attention, how profoundly the people who were living in North America when Europeans started showing up got totally screwed over.
So when Rebecca suggested that using Thanksgiving week to put out a newsletter issue highlighting Native artists, that resonated in my head (although be warned, you all narrowly avoided getting a convoluted 3000-word screed on the question of What Is Art that would have boiled down to “pretty much everything”). So this issue’s gonna be a simple one: just pics of contemporary(ish) Native artists who I like, and who I think you might like. I have a lot to say about all of these artists, but for once I’m not going to say much… I want your interpretation of the work to be unclouded by my yammering. All of these people are making great work, and if anything sticks out to you, you should dive in further!
Anti-Retro (2018), screenprint
Andrea Carlson makes enormous paintings and prints, often incorporating text. She works big, and kind of has the Pollock thing going where seeing a picture of her work is a very different thing front standing next to its immensity and just experiencing it.
Why Does He Call Me Caitlyn?? (2015), ceramic
Susan Folwell is a potter who mixes organic, handbuilt shapes with strong, unexpected graphics.
Trickster Showdown (2014), Lithograph
Julie Buffalohead uses her great skill at drawing animals in a way that’s both realistic and surreally expressive to tap into resonances and create single images that contain huge narratives. They’re also usually pretty funny.
Adaptation II (2012), beads and procupine quills on shoes designed by Christian Louboutin
Jamie Okuma applies traditional design motifs and techniques to high-fashion objects in combinations that are just startling in their coolness.
Indian With Beer Can (1969), oil on canvas
Fritz Scholder is the only artist I’m highlighting who isn’t still active—he dies in 2005—but his painting is so expressive and intense (and underappreciated) that I had to include him. His life and work are absolutely fascinating.
If they happened before you signed up, you might also find it worth your while to go back and take a look at my newsletter issues on George Morrison (who might be my single favorite visual artist) and James Luna (who is unquestionably my favorite performance artist).
No links or recs this time, since the whole thing is a bunch of links and recs.
Right on. Stay safe.