Category Archives: American Indian Art

New Pop Art Brings Native Cultures Together

“Native Pop energizes Indian country’s art scene with bold color and iconic images, offers platform for activism. The organizers behind Native Pop hunted for “hardcore, cutting-edge” indigenous artists to form their collective. The idea was to educate the public that Native people do more than traditional arts and crafts; they also make progressive art that’s intelligent and provocative.” K. Butler, ICTMN

Excerpt:   World Goes Wild for ‘Raw, In-Your-Face’ Native Pop Art, Kristin Butler, ICTMN

“The unified voices also strengthen the dialogue that Native people are still here. ‘We’re still relevant,’ says Brent Learned, Cheyenne/Arapaho, the award-winning artist and leading organizer of Native Pop. ‘We want our voices to be heard.’

More than two years ago, Learned tapped multi-media artist Joe Hopkins to help him bring Native Pop to life. The pair compared lists of the best pop artists in Native circles, starting with the most prominent names in the pop art world in Indian country, like Bunky Echo-Hawk, Steven Paul Judd,  George Curtis Levi,  Joshua Garrett, J. NiCole Hatfield  and Oneka M. Jones. Each artist brings a unique style to the table. They’re very sought-after artists, and not only that, their craft is well defined.

Beyond tribal affiliations, the common thread between the various Native Pop artists is pop art. Learned and Hopkins are quick to point out the distinction between pop and contemporary art. The two genres can get “cluttered,” Hopkins said. “It’s a fine line.” Pop art employs popular or iconic imagery, whereas contemporary art is less well-defined and generally ascribed to works by artists living today, art related to modern-day themes, or art created through new mediums.

In March, four Native Pop artists will represent the Native pop art movement at the National Reservation Economic Summit in Las Vegas. In October, the exhibit will head to the Bishop Gallery in Brooklyn.”

War and Death Story in Drawings

“June 25 was the 140th anniversary of the Battle of the Little Bighorn otherwise known as the Great Sioux War… The United States today is engaged in two deadly counterinsurgency wars in Afghanistan and the Islamic State…Examining the stunning drawings made in 1881 by Red Horse, a Mnicoujou warrior who fought at the Little Bighorn, provides timeless lessons about war.” S. Sagen, The New York Times

Drawing by Red Horse, “Untitled from the Red Horse Pictographic Account of the Battle of the Little Bighorn” (1881), graphite, colored pencil, and ink.

Drawing by Red Horse, “Untitled from the Red Horse Pictographic Account of the Battle of the Little Bighorn” (1881), graphite, colored pencil, and ink.

Excerpt: A Real War Story, in Drawings, BY Scott D. Sagen, The New York Times

“Red Horse, who surrendered the year after the battle, was living on the Cheyenne River Agency, a reservation in South Dakota, when he made the drawings. He spoke no English, and his initial account of the battle to American officials was delivered through Plains Indian sign language — coded hand signals that Native Americans on the Great Plains used to communicate across tribal lines. He later made the drawings with colored pencil and pen to help researchers check the accuracy of the interpretation of his sign-language testimony. But I think that the drawings are the real Red Horse testimony — more direct, eloquent and moving than the translation.

Drawings by Red Horse. Credit National Smithsonian Institution

Drawings by Red Horse. Credit National Smithsonian Institution

These drawings, housed at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, are the Little Bighorn through Lakota eyes. In one, of Last Stand Hill, where Lt. Col. George Custer and many of his Seventh Cavalry troopers were overwhelmed by Lakota and Cheyenne warriors, Red Horse displays his pride in the Native Americans who shot bullets and arrows into fleeing cavalrymen, pulled soldiers off horses or stabbed them with spears.

The cavalry horses appear in columns of two, mostly bluish-gray in the front row and sorrel in the back. This color coordination was not a figment of Red Horse’s imagination. Custer had issued a coloring of the horses order, forcing cavalrymen to trade horses with one another so that each troop company rode mounts of a uniform color.

Drawings by Red Horse. Credit National Archives:Smithsonian Institution

Drawings by Red Horse. Credit National Archives:Smithsonian Institution

Red Horse’s drawings are brutally honest and honest about brutality. His depiction of the scalped and mutilated bodies is an uncensored portrayal of the consequences of revenge and hatred.

In an era in which the Islamic State beheads its enemies, it is worth remembering that mistreatment of prisoners, mutilation and taking of body parts was once common in warfare. The Third Colorado Cavalry Militia killed more than 200 Cheyenne men, women and children in the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre, taking body parts and scalps and waving them for the crowds in their victory parade in Denver.

During the 2011 trial of the ‘Kill Team’ — American infantrymen stationed near Kandahar, Afghanistan, who murdered civilians for sport — it was revealed that one soldier carried home fingers of the victims as trophies. We should feel gratified that four of those soldiers were found guilty in the killings. Red Horse portrays the face of battle without the rules of war.”

“…stay the hand of vengeance in war, both to defeat the beast in our enemies and to control the beast within ourselves.” ~ Robert H. Jackson~ United States Solicitor General (1938–1940)

The Native Art of Birch Bark Biting

“I see the design through my eye teeth… I keep my eyes closed when I work because I see the design in the darkness said Denise Lajimodiere, (Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe) of her work in birch bark biting or ‘mazinibakajige’ which means marks upon the bark.” M. A. Pember, ICTMN

Angelique Merasty working on a birch bark biting. Photo- Frank Fieber, Northroots magazine

Angelique Merasty working on a birch bark biting. Photo- Frank Fieber, Northroots magazine

Excerpt: Healing Through the Art of Birch Bark Biting, by Mary A. Pember, ICTMN

“Birch bark biting was a pre-contact method of creating designs for beading or quillwork according to Lajimodiere. Mazinibakajige died out in my tribe until I began doing it about eight years ago, she said.

Denise Lajimodiere, (Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe)

Denise Lajimodiere, (Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe)

She carefully separated the layers of bark, almost holding her breath as she peeled the delicate onion-skin-like layers so they don’t tear. She folded a layer of bark into a triangle and began to bite a design with her eyeteeth. Biting quickly, sounding [like]  a chipmunk chewing through wood, she creates elaborate flowers, dragonflies and turtles. She held the finished work up to a lamp so the design could shine through.

You tube: Dale Kakkak talks with Denise Lajimodiere who was teaching Birch Bark Biting at the 3rd Nagaajiwanaang (Fond du Lac) Language Camp. Denise demonstrates how to prepare the bark and how create the design you want.

Lajimodiere, an assistant professor at North Dakota State University School of Education as well as a poet, sells her designs as earrings, wall hangings and other forms.

Example of how birch bark biting was used as pattern for quillwork. Photo- Mary Annette Pember

Example of how birch bark biting was used as pattern for quillwork. Photo- Mary Annette Pember

Lajimodiere was recently selected for a six-month Minnesota Historical Society Native Artist-in-Residence. With the award funds she plans on visiting the National Museum of the American Indian NMAI’s Archive Center in Suitland, Maryland to see the ancient mazinibakajige held there.

Birch Bark Biting poem by Denise Lajimodiere from her book of poems “Dragonfly Dance.

Birch Bark Biting poem by Denise Lajimodiere from her book of poems “Dragonfly Dance.

She hopes to travel to Maine to meet other “biters” and hopefully inspire a conference or symposium that will begin a resurgence of the art.”

“It’s very healing and requires a great deal of patience. The bark is harvested in the spring and does no harm to the tree. The tree heals itself right back up.”~ Denise Lajimodiere~

Artist Does 100 Days of Makeup!

“Winter is typically the off-season for makeup and special effects artist Ruby Ann Muro. Then she came across a 100 Days of Makeup project that a former student had created for her Instagram account. Intrigued, Muro decided to create her own 100 Days way as a challenge herself and showcase her work.” C. Mautner — Pennlive.com

One of the many wonderful faces of Muro. Credit: Muroinstagram

One of the many wonderful faces of Muro. Credit: Muroinstagram

Excerpt: “…Watch as local artist undergoes spectacular transformations. By Chris Mautner, Pennlive.com

“So for the past few months, every day, Muro has been posting a new identity of sorts on her Instagram and Flickr accounts. Some days she’s a gruesome tooth fairy or voodoo doll. She’s also been Wonder Woman, Freddie Krueger and a Party Leopard.

Day 75 Fortune Teller -Credit- Muroinstagram

Day 75 Fortune Teller -Credit- Muroinstagram

These elaborate transformations are second nature for Muro, who has served as a makeup consultant, costumer and even monster maker for various Halloween-themed attractions, including Field of Screams. and the annual Terror Behind the Walls attraction at the Eastern State Penitentiary.

Credit-  Muroinstagram.com

Credit- Muroinstagram.com

I remember when I was around Day 30 I was like, ‘This is impossible. What did I get myself into?’ she said. Now that she’s past the halfway point, however, the project doesn’t seem that insurmountable.

How long a particular image takes Muro to complete depends. ‘I’ve had some looks that can take 30 minutes and some that took 10 hours from concept, research to completion,’ she said.

Credit- Muro instagram.com.

Credit- Muro instagram.com.

In addition to designing and applying the makeup, Muro also does all the hairstyling, wig work, costuming and prop making for the photos. Her fiance, PennLive photographer Sean Simmers, shoots the final result.”

‘Wado’ to   LJVargas!

“The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection”.
~Michelangelo~

Museum Presents Ledger Artist: Evans Flammond, Sr.

“The Sioux Indian Museum will feature an exhibit of Ledger art by Evans Flammond, Sr., a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. The genre known as Ledger Art represents a transitional form of Plains Indian artistry. Beginning in the early 1860’s Plains Indian men adapted their representational style of painting to paper in the form of accountant’s ledger books… Like hide paintings, ledger drawings gloriously illustrated an extraordinary chronicle of the Plains Indian warriors’ heroic deeds and ultimately sealed a record of their personal history. Each drawing is from an original 1900 DAWES county claim register ledger.” G. Montileaux-DreamhorseCreations

Ledger art by Evans Flammond, Sr. Image courtesy Evans Flammond

Ledger art by Evans Flammond, Sr. Image courtesy Evans Flammond

Rapid City – The Sioux Indian Museum, administered by the Indian Arts and Crafts Board of the U.S. Department of the Interior, will feature an exhibit of ledger art by Evans Flammond, Sr. from May 8 to July 5, 2015. The exhibition is free and open to the public.

Excerpt: Evans Flammond, Sr., and the Dream Horse

“Evans Flammond, Sr. is a skilled artist and craftsman. Born in Rosebud, SD, and raised on the Rosebud and Pine Ridge Reservations, he now lives in Oglala, SD, with his family. A self-taught artist, believes that his saga began at age 7 during a weekly trip to town with his mother.

Like many kids, he fell asleep during that trip, but he wasn’t awakened by the sound of his mother’s voice. Instead, it was a tap on the window by what he now knows to be a Golden Eagle. Evans recounts that the eagle swooped down and touched the back seat window on which his head was leaning.

Ledger art by Evans Flammond, Sr.

Ledger art by Evans Flammond, Sr.

Evans has two sons, Evans Jr. and Edward, who are also exceptional artists and aspiring musicians. Evans seeks to portray Lakota art as adaptable and innovative as he draws from designs of the past.
He feels he is blessed to have the opportunity to travel to different parts of Europe and elsewhere, to share the story of his Culture and Beliefs with many different people. He enjoys letting people know that– Yes, we are still alive and kicking, and will continue to let the world know that this is who we are.”

Ledger art by Evans Flammond, Sr. Image courtesy Evans Flammond.

Ledger art by Evans Flammond, Sr. Image courtesy Evans Flammond.

Prices for the artwork in the exhibition can be obtained by contacting The Journey Museum Store at (605) 394-2201. To purchase artwork after the exhibit closes, please contact Evans Flammond, Sr., by email at dreamhorsecreations5150@yahoo.com

“I choose so proudly to place a silhouette of one or two eagles in each piece I create, giving thanks for the great Gift that the Eagle gave to me.” – Evans Flammond, Sr.

Kevin Red Star: From The Spirit

“The vivid colors and bold shapes of Crow artist Kevin Red Star are now available for your very own coffee table, in a beautiful new book that explores the painter’s life and art.” ICTMN

Discussion Questions for this post

Book: Kevin Red Star- Crow Indian Artist.  Written by Daniel Gibson,.

Book: Kevin Red Star- Crow Indian Artist. Written by Daniel Gibson,.

Excerpt: The Bold, Vivid Works of Crow Artist Kevin Red Star by G.Courey Toensing, ICTMN

“Kevin Red Star: Crow Indian Artist (Gibbs Smith, 2014) is the first large-format, hardcover book about one of the most acclaimed Native American artists of our time. Red Star’s contemporary style—part abstract, part representational and wholly unique—along with his vibrant colors combine in images that convey a deep love for his subject matter: traditional Crow Indian culture.

Evening Mountain Horses by Kevin Red Star.

Evening Mountain Horses by Kevin Red Star.

Born in 1943 into a family of creative people, Red Star was raised on the Crow reservation in Southwestern Montana…I always wanted to be an artist,Red Star says in the book. I remember drawing pictures—such as scenery, horses and tipis—but most of all I just enjoyed doodling.

In 1962, Red Star was among 150 students chosen to attend the then newly established Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he explored Crow history and culture via modern art techniques.

Dancers by Kevin Red Star.

Dancers by Kevin Red Star.

Red Star later received scholarships to the San Francisco Art Institute, where he was exposed to the avant garde and political and social concerns of post-modern art. While there he began winning prizes and awards for his artwork, and his career as a major American Indian artist began.

Crow Chiefs at the Bitterroots by Kevin Redstar.

Crow Chiefs at the Bitterroots by Kevin Redstar.

Blue Guitar by Kevin Red Star

Blue Guitar by Kevin Red Star

Red Star’s beautiful and passionate paintings of warriors, dancersin intricate regalia, horses and the big Montana landscape are collected in the Smithsonian Institute, the Denver Museum of Fine Art, the Whitney Museum in Cody, Wyoming, the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona, the Institute of American Indian Art in Santa Fe and the Eitlejorg Museum in Indianapolis, as well as elsewhere. The artist has been featured in special exhibitions around the world including shows in France, Belgium, Germany, China and Japan.”

“Indian culture has in the past been ignored to a great extent. It is for me, as well as for many other Indian artists, a rich source of creative expression.” Kevin Red Star-Crow Nation

Discussion Questions for this post
  1. What state is Kevin Red Star from?
  2. What year did Red Star attend the Institute of American Indian Arts?
  3. Where is the Institute of American Indian Arts located?
  4. Name three countries where Red Star’s work  has been on exhibition.
  5. Name three  museums in the U.S. that have collections of Red Star’s work.