Kay WalkingStick: An American Artist

Edited by Kathleen Ash-Milby and David W. Penney. Smithsonian Books, $50 (240p) ISBN 978-1-58834-510-3
This sumptuously designed and richly detailed catalogue, a companion to WalkingStick’s forthcoming exhibition at the National Museum of the American Indian, capably provides a comprehensive retrospective on Native American painter WalkingStick’s abundant career while confirming her rightful inclusion in the canon of American art. In the introduction, curator Ash-Milby (Hide: Skin as Material and Metaphor) and scholar Penney (Before and After the Horizon) laud WalkingStick as “probably the best known and most celebrated artist of Native American ancestry working today,” while lamenting the fact that so little of the public actually knows much about current Native art. WalkingStick is of Scottish and Irish lineage on her mother’s side and Cherokee on her father’s, and the complexities of dual identity serve as the book’s compelling through-line. Many of the essays touch on different aspects of the same issues, allowing the reader to accumulate insights from a multitude of angles. She is presented here as “Feminist, and not. Modern, postmodern, and not. Native, and not.” The lush reproductions of WalkingStick’s artwork are, of course, the highlight. Of particular note are the iconic Chief Joseph series, the diptychs, and the Talking Leaves series. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/02/2015
Release date: 11/01/2015
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