National Museum of the American Indian Presents Unprecedented Retrospective “Kay WalkingStick: An American Artist”

Smithsonian Exhibition Highlights Multi-Dimensionality of Celebrated Painter’s Art

WASHINGTON, Oct. 7, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — For nearly five decades, Kay WalkingStick (Cherokee, b. 1935) has charted an artistic career that is not bound by singular definition. WalkingStick’s artistic persona originates from roots in the New York art world of the 1960s and 1970s and her immersion in considerations of abstraction, minimalism and feminist art. Early works celebrate American Indian leaders, while more recent works recast American landscapes as Native places. “Kay WalkingStick: An American Artistis the first major retrospective of WalkingStick’s work, including more than 65 works that trace her dynamic career from the 1970s to the present.

The exhibition will be on view from Nov. 7, 2015, through Sept. 18, 2016, in the National Museum of the American Indian’s third-floor gallery.  “Kay WalkingStick: An American Artist” features both well-known works, such as WalkingStick’s “Chief Joseph” series and hallmark diptychs, as well as never-before-seen works.

The organization of the exhibition is chronological and features five major sections: “The Sensual Body,” “Material and Meaning, “Two Views: Diptychs,” “Italian Romance” and “Landscape: The Power of Native Place.” WalkingStick’s career progressed from an early focus on feminism and minimalism to spiritual explorations of landscapes through use of abstraction. Her entrance into the male-dominated New York art scene in the late 1960s and early 1970s, with her exhibition of vivid, playful explorations of the body, set the pace for a career of innovation and unique expression, breaking down barriers for both women and American Indian artists. Although her family moved from the Cherokee Nation to New York state before she was born, her exploration of Native history and her own identity is underscored in later evolutions of her work that focus on landscapes of the American West—a journey that continues to unfold.


The museum will hold a free symposium in honor of WalkingStick, titled “Seizing the Sky: Redefining American Art,” Thursday, Nov. 5, from 1 to 5:30 p.m. in the museum’s Rasmuson Theater. The program uses her groundbreaking work as a launch­ing point for a fresh perspective and dialogue about contemporary American art and how other Native artists are redefining it.


Kay WalkingStick: An American Artist, features more than 200 of WalkingStick’s most notable works, and her fascinating and complex biography is finally captured in vivid relation to her artwork. On-sale date: November 2015. Price: $50/Pages: 208. ISBN: 978-1-58834-510-3. Smithsonian Books.

About the National Museum of the American Indian

The National Museum of the American Indian is located at Fourth Street and Independence Ave SW in Washington, D.C. For additional information, visit Follow the museum via social media on Facebook and Twitter.

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