Arthur Amiotte is one of the most renowned Native American artists working today. Born on the Pine Ridge Reservation, he was educated at Northern State University, Aberdeen, South Dakota and the University of Montana, Missoula. Profoundly influenced by traditional Lakota artistic spiritual traditions, his mentors included his maternal grandmother, Christina Standing Bear, who tutored him in the women’s arts of tanning, beadwork, and quilling; and the great Lakota shaman and Sun Dance priest Pete Catches.
Curated by Janet Catherine Berlo, this exhibition focuses on Amiotte’s collage series, which he began in 1988. By combining historic drawings, family photographs, advertising circulars, and other imagery, he illustrates the pluralistic and richly textured lives of late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century Native people. The series serves as Amiotte’s cultural biography, as well as his family album. It provides a penetrating portrait of more than a century of Lakota history, narrated and visualized from a Native point of view. In these images, Amiotte undercuts one-dimensional stereotypes of Indian identity, and presents work that is inventive, humorous, melancholy, witty, profound, and philosophical.