This exhibition presents a sampling of work done by 12 artists of Native American heritage. They have been invited to participate in this exhibition because of the ability of their work to provoke and challenge, the years of dedication in maintaining their work, and by the respect they have earned from other artists. They are connected with California in various ways: they have either been educated here, they have taught in the California system, or they are affiliated with a California tribe. A few have all these ties to California.
Although California is not usually associated with what is commonly thought of as "Indian art," the state has a significant population of native people, whether indigenous or relocated from other areas. It has also been producing some of the strongest and most highly regarded art.
With the exception of Frank Day, who was self-taught, the artists in this exhibit have been trained in mainstream colleges and universities. Haozous (Apache), Longfish (Seneca, Tuscarora), and Tsinhnahjinnie (Seminole, Muskogee, Diné) have resided in California, but their art generally is expressed with reference to their tribal origins. Bartow and Fonseca live out of state, but are influenced by elements of their California tribal association, Yurok and Maidu, respectively. The other artists, Aguilar, LaPena, Lowry, Scholder, Tripp, and Tuttle, can all claim California Indian heritage.
What they all have in common is the retention of ties to the Indian community in some manner, whether it is through traditional practices, languages, and/or ceremony, or simply through the making of their own art with its reference to their Indian heritage in both its positive and negative aspects. The Native American experience provides these artists with a strong foundation and grounding of being. They have a sense of identity and purpose that is difficult to come by in our increasingly fragmented and superficial society. These artists are connected to the community, to the earth, and to the spirit.
- Frank LaPena and Carla Hills