Today's Indian Artists

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Native American people, from many cultures, keep their traditions alive, and teach us about their living cultures by expressing themselves through images created in many different ways, and in many different media.  Here we would like to introduce you to just a few of those people, people who also just happen to be great friends of ours.

Cliff Fragua is from Jemez Pueblo where he continues to express the ancient traditions of his culture through stone and bronze.

Today, Cliff Fragua is one of the pre-eminent sculptors of our time, and he is the only Native American who's work is on permanent display in the U.S. Capitol Building.  He calls his studio at Jemez Pueblo the Singing Stone Studio, because the stone sings to him as he creates the forms that continue his Native American heritage.  You can learn more about this Native American artist in the short program below.

Caroline Carpio continues the traditions of her Isleta Pueblo people through images created in clay and in bronze.  Caroline is shown here with her creation, Spirit Of The Seasons, that was especially created for the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona.

 

To many Native American people, water is the giver of life, and Caroline expresses that in her magnificent bronze sculpture entitled River Of Life II.

 

Ryon Polequaptewa  is from Shungopavi and is of the Sun Clan.  From high upon the Hopi mesas in Northern Arizona, Ryon expresses and teaches us of his culture by his Kachina Dolls carved from cottonwood root.

The villages of Hopi extend back toward 1,000 years, and people like Ryon help the culture to thrive in spite of modern times and modern difficulties.

Learn more about the Hopi culture in our short podcast, below.

You also can hear Ryon, and his group Blu Thunder as they create images through a totally different medium...the traditional drums and singing that is shared by many of our Native American cultures.

 

 

  Navajo educator and artist Amelia Joe-Chandler left her Navajo country for a while to earn a master's degree. But she returned to work with children and to express her traditional background through images in silver.

 

There is a story told in each piece of her amazing silver work, which is in great demand today.

You can learn more about Amelia's trips back and forth from Indian Country to Anglo Country throughout her college days in the story she tells about her life and her work.

Mark Fischer is an educator that worked extensively with the Oneida schools up in snowy Wisconsin.

Mark belongs to the Turtle Clan, and his work in copper pictures the age old beliefs held by the Oneida people.

Listen here as Mark shares insights into his Oneida culture.           

 

While Native American cultures, traditions and beliefs can be vastly different from culture to culture, a universal belief is Mother Earth, as depicted in Fischer's sculpture Mother Earth that is shown to you here.

Mark Fischer and Ryon Polequaptewa both are Native American people, yet their backgrounds, their cultures and their languages have less in common than the English and the Chinese.

Their only commonality is that their respective cultures were here first, as the original Americans.

 

 

Born on the Menominee Reservation in Wisconsin, Wendy Boivin learned traditional loom work from her mother at a very young age.  Beading became a hobby as she made small gifts for her family and friends.  After high school, Wendy attended the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, and graduated with an Associate of Fine Arts degree in 3-D design.

Wendy uses traditional materials in her work, including traditional brain-tanned smoked buckskin, porcupine quills, brass beads and cones.  Wendy says, "Like my ancestors, I use the materials available to me. "

Wendy creates images of leather, beads and cones that carry on the rich Menominee heritage into today's time.  And that tradition continues as Wendy teaches her daughters about her special culture.

 

The spirit of the turtle is very important in the life and artwork of Carly Bordeau, who calls herself Carly Urbanskin.  But people that know Carly call her Turtle Woman.

Carly is a member of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, descendants of the Anishinabe people who were confined to the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota.

A college major in graphic design and photography, Carly Bordeau works in a variety of media.  Her favorites are pastels and painted textiles.

She loves the designs of Ojibwe floral patterns that are reflected in much of her work.

Carly preserves her tradition, and teaches us, through images in many different items, including an entire series of note cards that Carly has created.

 

 

Native America, many times, is painted with a broad brush, and many folks think of the Indian as the handsome warrior with a big head dress, from another time.  And, Native America seems much like a quilt, with many different cultures, languages, beliefs and traditions, that seemingly blend into a single entity.  Not so, as the diversity of the many cultures, and our friends above, clearly shows.

To appreciate even more of the diversity of Native Americans today, and their work to keep their cultures alive, we invite you to visit the River Trading Post website where you can see items created by over 87 Native American cultures during the past 1000 years.