Laura Ortman

She // Her // Hers

[ID: A portrait of a woman standing in front of an enormous tree holding an Apache Violin. She looks directly at the viewer, holding the instrument on her left forearm in front of her torso. She has long dark hair, wing-tipped eyeliner, and colorful patterned garments that both clash with and complement one another.]

Musician and Composer
Brooklyn, NY
2022 USA Fellow

This award was generously supported by The Fred and Eve Simon Charitable Foundation.

A soloist musician, composer, and vibrant collaborator, Laura Ortman (White Mountain Apache) creates across multiple platforms, including recorded albums, live performances, and filmic and artistic soundtracks. Ortman has collaborated with artists such as Tony Conrad, Jock Soto, Raven Chacon, Nanobah Becker, Okkyung Lee, Martin Bisi, Caroline Monnet, Tanya Lukin Linklater, Martha Colburn, and Loren Connors. An inquisitive and exquisite violinist, she is versed in Apache violin, piano, electric guitar, keyboards, and amplified violin; she often sings through a megaphone and is a producer of capacious field recordings.

She has performed at the Whitney Museum of American Art and Museum of Modern Art in New York, Musée d’art contemporain in Montreal, and Centre Pompidou in Paris, as well as countless established and DIY venues across the United States, Canada, and Europe. In 2008, she founded the Coast Orchestra, an all-Native American orchestral ensemble that performed a live soundtrack to Edward Curtis’ In the Land of the Head Hunters (1914), the first silent feature film to star an all-Native American cast.

She is the recipient of the 2020 Jerome@Camargo residency in Cassis, France, a 2017 Jerome Foundation Composer/Sound Artist Fellowship, a 2016 Art Matters grant, a 2016 Native Arts and Culture Foundation National Artist Fellowship, and a 2015 IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts Social Engagement Residency, among other recognitions. She was also a participating artist in the 2019 Whitney Biennial. Ortman lives in Brooklyn.

Portrait photo by Marne Lucas.