Montclair Art Museum Presents Unprecedented Retrospective of Kay WalkingStick

February 3–June 17, 2018; MAM is the Final Stop on the National Tour
 
 
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MONTCLAIR, N.J. - Nov. 29, 2017 - PRLog -- "My present paintings of mountains and sea are vistas of memory—our America the beautiful. They are meant to glorify our land and honor those people who first lived upon it." –Kay WalkingStick

MONTCLAIR, NJ, November 27, 2017—Kay WalkingStick: An American Artist, an unprecedented exhibition organized by the American Federation of Arts and the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, will travel to the Montclair Art Museum (MAM) for the final stop on its national tour. The exhibition is the first major retrospective of Kay WalkingStick (b. 1935), a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and one of the world's most celebrated artists of Native American ancestry. It will be on view at MAM February 3–June 17, 2018.

Featuring more than 60 of WalkingStick's most notable paintings, drawings, 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.

Night/ᎤᎡᎢ (Usvi) (1991), a seminal work by WalkingStick, was borrowed from MAM's collection for the national tour, which will conclude at the Montclair Art Museum. "Much of WalkingStick's work deals with dualities in contemporary life and she often uses diptychs as a way of unifying this duality," said Gail Stavitsky, MAM chief curator. "In Night, the two portions represent two kinds of knowledge of the earth. One is visual, a memory of a stream bed near Tucson, Arizona, and the other is more spiritual."

The presentation at the Montclair Art Museum spans several galleries, located on either side of the Museum's well-known, permanent installation of works by George Inness. WalkingStick reflected, "I am a great admirer of George Inness and his work will serve as an introduction to my late paintings. In fact, I see myself as part of the long tradition of American landscape painters including Asher B. Durand, Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Moran, and George Inness. In their work, especially Inness' paintings of Montclair, there is a sense of his closeness to home. I am from the tristate area and I love New Jersey's landscape. I see this area as our place."

The exhibition is co-curated by NMAI curator Kathleen Ash-Milby (Navajo) and associate director David W. Penney, in close collaboration with the artist. The exhibition's presentation at the Montclair Art Museum is coordinated by Gail Stavitsky, MAM's chief curator.

Related Programs

The Vance Wall Art Education Center at MAM will present a series of programs and art classes for all ages. Offerings include:

Studio Explorers: Places and Traces is this season's themed class for MAM's youngest artists (ages 4–8). The class is offered in several sessions starting January 8.
Exploring Kay WalkingStick in Watercolor, an adult art class on Thursdays starting January 11, visits WalkingStick's exhibition and interprets discoveries to apply in watercolor.
Linocuts Explored through Native American Design, an adult art workshop on Sunday, February 4, teaches the process of making a linoleum print from studying the design patterns in Kay WalkingStick: An American Artist.
Parent/Child Gilded Valentines, an art workshop on Saturday, February 10, uses gold leaf gilding techniques as seen in the paintings of Kay WalkingStick to create one-of-a-kind valentines.
Parent/Child Diptychs, an art workshop on Saturday, March 10, creates mixed media landscapes in the diptych style of Kay WalkingStick.
3rd Annual Gaelen Family Artist Lecture on Thursday, April 26 will highlight artist Kay WalkingStick in conversation with curator Kathleen Ash-Milby.

Additional programs may be added; for more information, please visit https://www.montclairartmuseum.org/.

About the Artist

Kay WalkingStick (Cherokee, b. 1935) is an acclaimed artist best known for painting. She received her BFA from Beaver College (now Arcadia University) and MFA at Pratt Institute, supported by a Danforth Foundation Graduate Fellowship for Women. Her first solo exhibition in New York City was in 1969. She has since exhibited her work in more than 30 groundbreaking solo exhibitions and numerous group exhibitions nationally and internationally, culminating in the major traveling retrospective Kay WalkingStick: An American Artist. She was also the first Native American artist to appear in H.W. Janson's "History of Art" (Fifth Edition, 1995).

WalkingStick has a rich history with the Montclair Art Museum, serving as an instructor in MAM's art school from 1986 to 1988 and as a Museum trustee from 2006 to 2010. Her painting Night/ᎤᎡᎢ (Usvi) (1991) was featured in the exhibition Waxing Poetic Encaustic Art in America in 1999 and she was featured in a site-specific installation in the Museum's Laurie Art Stairway titled American Abstraction: Dialogue with the Cosmos from January 2008 to February 2009. WalkingStick has donated to the Museum's collection prints by other Native American artists including Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Joe Feddersen, and Melanie Andrew Yazzie.

WalkingStick's work is represented in the collections of several museums, including the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, the National Gallery of Canada, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Montclair Art Museum. She has received many awards, including grants from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, the Joan Mitchell Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Eiteljorg Fellowship for Native American Fine Art (2003). She is a faculty emerita at Cornell University where she was a professor in the Department of Art, retiring in 2005. Currently she resides with her husband in Easton, Penn.
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