Marcus Amerman is a Choctaw bead artist who uses traditional Native American techniques to create contemporary art and imagery. He first learned beadwork among the Umatilla in Pendleton, Oregon, making beaded regalia for his family and beaded jewelry to sell at pow-wows. As his skills evolved over the years, he expanded his content and imagery to include political and socially conscious themes, as a tribute to his ancestors. Known both as a multi-media artist/performer and a teacher, he has passed on his innovative use of traditional beadwork to a new generation of makers, encouraging students to make beadwork about their lives and experiences. His photo-realistic, painterly aesthetic, which he calls, “photo-beadalism”, has been emulated by many of the top Native beadwork practitioners. His work has been exhibited in galleries and museums all over the world, including the Highgate Gallery in London, The Museum of World Culture in Sweden, The Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in Santa Fe, The Museum of Craft and Folk Art in San Francisco and The Far Eastern Museum in Russia. Amerman’s work is in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian and The American Museum of Natural History.
San Diego, CA
Einar and Jamex de la Torre are brothers originally from Guadalajara, Mexico, they have been collaborating in earnest since the mid-nineties. They work together to develop their signature style mix media work with blown glass sculpture. Their pieces represent a multifaceted view of life that reflects a complex and humorous aesthetic that could be called baroque. Their approach is additive, constantly layering material and meaning. Their influences range from Catholic iconography to German expressionism and pay homage to Mexican vernacular art as well as pre-Columbian objects and images. Many of their pieces address issues of the border region as they live and work on both sides, as well as aspects of human sacrifice. In recent years, they have been experimenting with lenticular printing, creating photomural installations alongside blown glass. They have won the San Diego Foundation Grant Award, The San Diego Art Prize, the Louis Comfort Tiffany Award and the Joan Mitchell Foundation Award. They have had 15 solo museum exhibitions including the National Glass Centre Museum in England, the Glazhuiz in Belgium, the Mesa Arts Center Museum, and the Chrysler Museum of Art.
New Orleans, LA
Darryl Montana is the Chief of the Yellow Pocahontas “Hunters” Black “masking” Indian Tribe. In the late 1800’s, the New Orleans indigenous Black Indian movement of “masking Indian” on Carnival Day began in the Montana family. Hailing from a prominent family of Black masking Indians and son of the Chief of Chiefs Allison “Big Chief Tootie” Montana, he uses sequins, beads, pearls, marabou, feathers and stones to create multi-dimensional Mardi Gras costumes for each year’s carnival in New Orleans. The techniques and use of materials have been passed down to him from his father. He began learning how to string beads at age six and made his first suit when he was eleven using a used vinyl raincoat as his canvas. His suits can take up to 5000 hours to complete and they are in response to themes like metamorphosis and evolution. He says the on Carnival day, “he is in full regalia representing a culture that unites the community around the tradition of masking and simply being the prettiest.” In addition to creating these massive pieces, Montana passes his techniques on to children and teaches them how to construct sculptural costumes. Montana’s work is in the public collections of the International Folk Art Museum and the Joan Mitchell Foundation and private collections of the late John Scott, Diego Cortez, Ron Bechet, and Mapo Kinnord-Payton, to name a few.
Tip Toland was born outside of Philadelphia and now lives in Vaughn, Washington. She received her MFA from Montana State University in 1981. In 1986 she received a visual arts Fellowship grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. She was awarded first-place in 2005 for the Virginia Groot Foundation grant. Tip is a full-time studio artist and a part-time instructor in the Seattle area. In addition, she conducts workshops across the United States, Europe and the Middle East. Her work has been shown nationally and internationally. Most recently she was represented through Barry Friedman Gallery LTD.until it closed in May, 2014. Her work is represented in both private and public collections, including Yellowstone Art Museum, Archie Bray Foundation, the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian, Kohler Art Center, Nelson Atkins Museum, The Museum of Art and Design and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Tlingit/Aleut artist Nicholas Galanin describes his work as “contemporary multimedia work that transcends the familiar, time-honored iconography of Tlingit and Northwest Coast art.” He combines the traditional and contemporary in works such as Tsu Héidei Shugaxtutaan (2006), a two-part video in which a Tlingit dancer moves to a techno soundtrack, and a non-Native break-dancer interprets a Tlingit song. Galanin received a Rasmuson Foundation Individual Artist Award in 2011.
Stone Ridge, NY
Metalsmith Myra Mimlitsch-Gray creates jewelry and tablewares. Although she works in traditional metals such as copper and silver, Mimlitsch-Gray alters familiar forms, producing objects that only suggest function and instead serve as portraits or social indicators. Her Motified Corn Pone Pan (2007), made during a residency at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Wisconsin, alludes to corn’s ubiquity in the Midwest and issues around monoculture agriculture. She has received several awards, including an NEA Fellowship (1994). Mimlitsch-Gray is currently Head of Metal Progam at SUNY-New Paltz.
Basketmaker, Leon Niehues works in the traditional Ozark splint knife method. He is mostly self-taught, having learned from an instructional booklet published in the 1950s by the University of Arkansas. Working mostly in white oak, Niehues harvests his materials from his own woods in northwest Arkansas. He employs time-honored techniques, weaving freeform to reinvent the traditional oak utility basket into elegant sculptural forms with loose, flexible whips and asymmetry. Niehues received a Mid-America Arts Alliance/NEA Fellowship Award (1995) and the Arkansas Living Treasure Award (2005).
New Orleans, LA
German-born glass artist Sibylle Peretti has lived in New Orleans since 1996. Using glass as a canvas, Peretti creates dreamlike figurative works that can incorporate drawing or photography. She has recently created a series of works on the theme of feral children, which allows her to explore the often-fraught relationship between humans and nature. Peretti has taught at the Pilchuck Glass School in Washington and the Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina.
Rowland Ricketts uses natural materials and traditional techniques to create contemporary textiles. Ricketts trained in indigo farming and dyeing in Japan. He now farms the dye in rural Indiana and uses it to make geometric forms in textiles that vary in scale, at times becoming large-scale installations. Ricketts, an Assistant Professor of Textiles at Indiana University, runs the IndiGrowing Blue project at the school with participants who grow and harvest Japanese indigo as a way to gain “unique insight into how we live, create, and consume as contemporary Americans.”
Kurt Weiser is a ceramic artist who works in the tradition of china paint on porcelain. Around 1990, Weiser first began painting on porcelain by covering a teapot with botanical imagery. He eventually started using color and incorporating narrative scenes drawn from both art history and his imagination. His mostly nude figures appear to float across the surfaces of his vessels within surreal, junglelike landscapes. In his most recent works, the images appear to blend so seamlessly with the shape of the pots that the vessels almost disappear and the depicted fantasies dominate.