New in August “Collected Voices: Contemporary Native Art”

Contact: John Addison, 505-992-0711                                                          July 22, 2010


Collected Voices: Contemporary Native Art

August 20 – September 10, 2010

Sante Fe, NM- Chiaroscuro Contemporary Art presents: Collected Voices: Contemporary Native Art from August 20 – September 10, 2010. The opening reception for this exhibition is Friday, August 20, from 5 – 7pm.

This year, Chiaroscuro’s annual Indian Market show, Collected Voices: Contemporary Native Art, features the work of eight contemporary Native artists. Collected Voices showcases the talents and visions of this extraordinary group of artists as a dialogue between the generations and between the diverse mediums of painting, ceramic, glass, and works on paper. Each artist brings his or her unique aesthetic to the powerful themes of identity, place, and changing traditions.

Collected Voices features seven gallery artists and one new artist, Joe Feddersen, represented by Froelick Gallery in Portland, Oregon. In addition to the late Harry Fonseca, the returning artists include, Rick Bartow, Yatika Starr Fields, Lisa Holt and Harlan Reano, Rose B. Simpson, and Kay Walkingstick.

Rose B. Simpson (Santa Clara Pueblo) is among the most talented young artists working today. From her visceral self-portraits that grapple with themes of personal transformation and identity, to ideas that broach more global concerns, her work is expressive, emotional, and diverse. Simpson, a former vocalist for the band Chocolate Helicopter, is now a master’s candidate at Rhode Island School of Design. For Collected Voices, Simpson presents a new body of work, done outside of the RISD curriculum. Pod II, one of these works, depicts a ceramic female figure inside a woven basket form. The ambiguity of the piece calls into question the dual nature of tradition as something that confines but also comforts, something that smothers individual creativity but also protects. Ultimately, the woven shell surrounding the ceramic figure is as fragile as the figure itself. Similar ideas are explored through ceramic bowls and pottery that combine traditional and contemporary motifs. Simpson’s work expresses an intimate, personal history of the artist in such basic human terms that her work has a broad, all-encompassing reach.

Other younger artists include Lisa Holt (Cochiti Pueblo) and Harlan Reano (Santa Domingo Pueblo) who collaborate on traditional vessel forms in painted ceramic. Holt, niece of famous ceramic sculptor and fashion designer Virgil Ortiz, creates the vessel forms. Reano paints her ceramics with decorative motifs that elaborate on traditional designs with audacious innovations. The eye-catching pieces included in Collected Voices extend their innovative approach to include the form of the pottery itself. Here, the theme is animal forms, a Cochiti tradition. Reano’s work sometimes incorporates Santo Domingo Pueblo motifs but frequently employs his own original designs. The showpiece for this exhibition is a serpent figure, painted in the artist’s bold style, a fusion of hybrid forms that is snake-like, insect-like, and oddly human.

Yatika Starr Fields (Cherokee, Creek, and Osage), another younger Native artist, is a painter who employs dazzling, hallucinogenic imagery with personal themes. Last year, Chiaroscuro presented a series of his paintings based on the significance of buoys to Native and non-Native cultures. Starr Fields canvasses are vibrant, all-over abstractions that are infused with color, symbols, and movement in swirling maelstroms of dreamlike imagery. Among the lush, bold use of paint and color, Starr Fields incorporates common everyday objects. These, like the buoys, may have a cultural significance or represent icons of memory making his paintings far more personal. Now based in New York, Starr Fields, originally from Oklahoma, became involved with the graffiti culture of east coast urban centers and the influence of a graffiti aesthetic can be seen in his work.

New to Chiaroscuro this year is veteran artist Joe Feddersen (Colville). Feddersen employs blown and mirrored glass, fused glass and copper, as well as a variety of printmaking techniques to bring a minimalist aesthetic to his diverse body of work. Fedderson, whose work was included in a solo exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in 2003, translates traditional symbolic forms into a contemporary idiom. His most recent exhibition, called Codex, was a series of glass basket forms that referenced the regional, historic basketry of the Colville tribes. Feddersen brings other examples of his Native basket inspired glass, decorated with geometric patterns that recall the symbolic language of the Colville, to Collected Voices.

Fedderson, along with gallery artist Rick Bartow (Wiyot), represent an older generation of artists. Themes of transformation or metamorphosis are rife within Bartow’s work. Defying more conventional, even trite, depictions of peace and harmony between Native Americans and the animal world, Bartow’s works on paper are violent, schizophrenic and nightmarish. Adding to the unease of his quasi-human/animal portraits are the pastel colors he uses to render them: pinks, light greens, and purples. The contrasting darks and lights suggest violent transformation, a struggle against change. Bartow taps into a raw, emotional vein of ferocious hunger, and of raging, animal instinct.

Kay WalkingStick‘s (Cherokee) paintings often pairs landscapes with objects, symbols, or dancing figures to present as contrasting or complimentary images. Sometimes, morphological similarities between landscapes and other forms, such as human figures, form the basis for a pairing that suggests a convergence between the forms. This dual aspect of her work is exemplified by a painting called Seven Sisters, depicting an unbroken range of seven mesa-like formations half in daylight and half under a nighttime sky. WalkingStick, by presenting a simultaneous aspect of a single view, lends a mystical reverence to the idea of place. WalkingStick, a former professor of art at Cornell University, adds a touch of ambiguity to Seven Sisters as the title could have multiple meanings including referencing the Pleiades which can be seen right of center on the painting’s nighttime side.

Chiaroscuro, which represents the Harry Fonseca (Maidu) estate, is proud to once again show some of the late artist’s paintings. A highlight of the Fonseca’s work in Collected Voices is a painting from a series on Saint Francis of Assisi he did in the 1990s. More from this series can be seen in In the Silence of Dusk, a current exhibit of Fonseca’s work at the Museum of Indian Art and Culture.


Collected Voices: Contemporary Native Art

August 20 – September 10, 2010

Opening reception, Friday, August 20, from 5 – 7pm