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Jaune Quick-to-See Smith: Made in America


Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, a well known American Indian artist and activist, examines current issues facing her people in an exhibition that opens a semester-long Celebration of Native American Culture at the Thorne-Sagendorph Art Gallery at Keene State College. "Jaune Quick-to-See Smith: Made in America," which opens Tuesday, September 7, and continues through December 5, 2004 is an exhibition of drawing, printmaking, painting, and mixed media installation that examines American Indian life in contrast to the consumerism of American society. The Friends of the Thorne will host an opening reception on Friday, September 10, 2004 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the gallery. (right: Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, I See Red: Snowman, 1992, oil and mixed media on canvas)

Born in 1940 on the Flathead Reservation in Montana to Flathead Salish, French-Cree, and Shoshone parents, Quick-to-See Smith became an artist while in her 30s and was earning a living as a painter before she completed her master of fine arts degree at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. By the mid-1970s she had founded artists groups, curated exhibitions, and organized grassroots protests to express concern for the land and its native people. Over 35 years she has developed a distinctive modernist style in a variety of techniques and has received international critical acclaim through over 75 solo exhibitions and numerous international shows. Her politically loaded subject matter ranges from cowboys and Indians to reservation life and war, McDonalds, and consumerism.

"Everything in American is for sale including land, water, air, and elections," according to Quick-to-See Smith. That is why she includes money signs in her paintings as did Andy Warhol, but she adds other iconic forms such as ancient petroglyphs in her works to reflect both Western and Native cultures.

"Indian identify is at the center of her work, but her mode of expression is an appropriation of the boldness of Pop artists like Warhol and (Jasper) Johns," noted William Zimmer in a March 2001 article in The New York Times. (left: Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Mother and Child, 1998, ink on paper monotype)

Quick-to-See Smith has continued these influences in recent works, such as in her map paintings, borrowed from Johns with Pollock-like drips, the richly layered collaged painting Like a Tree and her 2002 painting of Tonto and the Lone Ranger, Duo, which pushed pop imagery to new heights. Through her art, she uses irony and humor to confront difficult issues, but eventually she opens the door for a hopeful outcome.

"Jaune Quick-to-See Smith: Made in America" is the first of three exhibits celebrating Native American culture to be displayed during the fall semester at the Thorne Art Gallery. Opening October 9, 2004 "Vision Quest: Men, Women, and Sacred Sites of the Sioux Nation," a photography exhibit by Don Doll, S.J., professor of journalism at Creighton University, Omaha, Neb., and "Mid-Century Traditions: Native American Dolls from the 1950s" from the Doyle Collection of Native American Dolls, on loan from the Robbins Museum of Archaeology in Middleborough, Mass.

"Jaune Quick-to-See Smith: Made in America" is organized by the University of Missouri-Kansas City Belger Arts Center for Creative Studies with guest curator Charles Muir Lovell, director of the Harwood Museum of Art, University of New Mexico, Taos. The exhibition tour was organized by TREX: The Traveling Exhibitions Program of the Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe. TREX operates in partnership with the Museum of New Mexico Foundation with support from MetLife Foundation and McCune Charitable Foundation.

Free guided gallery tours of the Jaune Quick-to-See Smith exhibit are offered by Keene State art student intern Beth LaRoche at 3 p.m. on Sundays. Reservations are not required.

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