Contemporary Native American Artists


Through the millennia, Native Americans have created fine art. Southwestern canyon walls are covered with petroglyphs that still inform today?s paintings, and ancient rituals live on in the handicrafts of daily life. Contemporary artists have built upon these, their ancestral traditions, and have reinterpreted them for a modern world.

Ken Lingad had a vision for these artists and their art. He assembled an exemplary group that would be the best of the best?not simply the most ...

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Through the millennia, Native Americans have created fine art. Southwestern canyon walls are covered with petroglyphs that still inform today’s paintings, and ancient rituals live on in the handicrafts of daily life. Contemporary artists have built upon these, their ancestral traditions, and have reinterpreted them for a modern world.

Ken Lingad had a vision for these artists and their art. He assembled an exemplary group that would be the best of the best–not simply the most recognized, but the topmost artists in a wide range of mediums and styles. For just over a year, 2007-2008, these artists shared an exhibition structure that was modeled on tribal traditions as surely as was their art.

These masters of contemporary Native American art displayed their enormous talent through painting, sculpture,
pottery, jewelry, and clothing. And although that unique gathering of artists has now dispersed and evolved into new ventures, the art they continue to create is respected around the globe for its intrinsic beauty—and for the deeper meaning embedded by the artist in each artwork.

In Contemporary Native American Artists, these luminaries of the Native art world are brought together through stunning photography and intimate portrayals of their lives and their art. Through Kitty Leaken’s photographs, follow world-renowned potter Jody Naranjo as she fires pots on her tribal lands. Watch painter Rhett Lynch use color and texture as he crafts modern masterpieces. And stand alongside as sculptor Adrian Wall smooths the limestone to reveal the beautiful sculpture within.

Featured artists American Artists

Jody Naranjo, pottery

Kevin Red Star, painting

Ed Archie NoiseCat, sculpture

Jhane Myers, clothing design

Rhett Lynch, painting

Fritz J. Casuse, jewelry

Malcolm Furlow, painting

Joe Cajero, Jr., sculpture

Althea Cajero, jewelry

Upton Ethelbah, Jr., sculpture

Adrian Wall, sculpture

Richard Aitson, beadwork

Penny Singer, clothing design

Melanie Kirk-Lente and Michael Lente, jewelry

Dyani Reynolds-White Hawk, painting

C. J. Wells, painting

R. Lee White, painting

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Editorial Reviews

B.J. Thomas
Artfullly done!
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781423605591
  • Publisher: Smith, Gibbs Publisher
  • Publication date: 6/1/2012
  • Pages: 184
  • Sales rank: 792,949
  • Product dimensions: 9.40 (w) x 11.14 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Suzanne Deats, a graduate of the University of New Mexico, is an artist and art critic. She worked at the Santa Fe Reporter for seven years before writing magazine articles and a number of books about artists and fine arts. She lives in Houston, Texas.

Kitty Leaken, a seasoned photojournalist, creates documentaries that preserve art and culture of native peoples in Tibet and Sri Lanka. She graduated from Stanford University, has provided photography for several books, and lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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Read an Excerpt

Contemporary Native American art is a strong presence in the United States and in today’s international art market. It encompasses thousands of artists, many annual events, an everchanging array of fine art galleries, and a number of museums throughout North America. A large, vibrant sector is devoted to time-honored forms associated with daily life: textiles, jewelry, pottery, and ceremonial objects. An equally important group brings the ancient traditions to the breaking edge of contemporary innovation with paintings, sculptures, and high-tech processes. In between is every shade and gradation of creativity. These artists give visible form to the past, present, and future of American Indian life. Their art affords tangible proof of the endurance of their people and the unshakable integrity of their culture.

The art is built upon millennia of esthetic expression by tribes that were scattered across the vast North American continent. Each tribe’s imagery reflected its own heritage and setting; all rose to an uncommon level of beauty that informed and infused all aspects of life. With the arrival of European colonists in the sixteenth century, the robust indigenous culture became fragmented. The people were pushed into the outer fringes of the encroaching society and many were forced onto reservations. Their numbers dwindled as they endured unimaginable hardship. Art, no longer central to the people’s existence, became tourist commodity or collectible antique artifact, and so it remained for generations. But beneath the ruins of a culture, and safely out of sight of the new order, the people’s creative roots survived.

The flowering of Native American art in the modern era began with the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe, New Mexico. This school broke new ground in the late 1960s and continues to lead the way for an increasing number of international workshops and university art curricula. IAIA recruited talented youth from reservations and Native communities throughout the United States. It provided teachers who were recognized artists, and presented high-level art history classes and in-depth courses on Indian cultures. Students were schooled in the crafts of their ancestors, and were encouraged to develop new forms. They acquired technical skills in oil paint and bronze; they explored the latest trends in cinematography and experimental media.

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Table of Contents

Foreword Bruce Bernstein, Ph.D. 9

Contemporary Native American Artists: A Bridge of Time and Place 13

The Artists 21

Jody Naranjo 23

Kevin Red Star 37

Ed Archie NoiseCat 49


hane Myers 61

Rhett Lynch 67

Fritz J. Casuse 79

Malcolm Furlow 91

Joe Cajero, Jr. and Althea Cajero 101

Upton Ethelbah, Jr. 117

Adrian Wall 125

Richard Aitson 133

Penny Singer 139

Melanie Kirk-Lente and Michael Lente 145

Dyani Reynolds-White Hawk 151

C. J. Wells 161

R. Lee White 171

Contact Information 182

Thank Yous 183

Credits 183

The Authors 184

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