Kay WalkingStick: An American Artist

November 7, 2015–September 18, 2016
Washington, DC

Kay WalkingStick: An American Artist is the first major retrospective of the artistic career of Kay WalkingStick (b. 1935), a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and one of the world’s most celebrated artists of Native American ancestry. Featuring more than 65 of her most notable paintings, drawings, small sculptures, notebooks, and the diptychs for which she is best known, the exhibition traces her career over more than four decades and culminates with her recent paintings of monumental landscapes and Native places. Her distinctive approach to painting emerged from the cauldron of the New York art world, poised between late modernism and postmodernism of the 1960s and 1970s. Over decades of intense and prolific artistic production, she sought spiritual truth through the acts of painting and metaphysical reflection. Organized chronologically around themes that mark her artistic journey, Kay WalkingStick: An American Artist traces a path of constant invention, innovation, and evolving artistic and personal growth through visually brilliant and evocative works of art.

After Kay WalkingStick: An American Artist closes at the NMAI, the American Federation of the Arts will tour the exhibition to the Heard Museum, Phoenix, Arizona (October 13, 2016–January 8, 2017); the Dayton Art Institute, Dayton, Ohio (February 9–May 7, 2017); the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, Kalamazoo, Michigan (June 17–September 10, 2017); the Gilcrease Art Museum, Tulsa, Oklahoma (October 5, 2017–January 7, 2018); and the Montclair Art Museum, Montclair, New Jersey (February 3–June 17, 2018).

The exhibition is co-curated by NMAI curator Kathleen Ash-Milby (Navajo) and associate director David W. Penney, in close collaboration with the artist. Ash-Milby and Penney are also co-editors and authors of a substantial companion catalogue, the first of its kind, which also features writings by Margaret Archuleta (Tewa/Hispanic), Jessica Horton, Robert Houle (Saulteaux), Lucy Lippard, Erica WalkingStick Echols Lowry (Cherokee), Miles Miller (Yakama/Nez Perce), Kate Morris, Judith Ostrowitz, Lisa Seppi, and Kay WalkingStick herself.

Generous support for this project is provided by the National Council of the National Museum of the American Indian.