(Smithsonian mag) A Long Overdue Retrospective for Kay WalkingStick Dispels Native Art Stereotypes

Kay WalkingStick

Kay WalkingStick at NMAI by Menachem Wecker

My article “A Long Overdue Retrospective for Kay WalkingStick Dispels Native Art Stereotypes” appears in Smithsonian magazine. Here’s the lede:

“I’m a talker. I have a hard time shutting up,” admits artist Kay WalkingStick as she leads a reporter through a retrospective of her works at the National Museum of the American Indian. But standing in front of a wall of charcoal and graphite sketches on paper, the 80-year-old Easton, Pennsylvania-based painter and Cherokee Nation member talks about doing the exact opposite—preserving the mystery in her art.

“What the heck is going on? Why on earth would she put a cross in the middle of all that mess?” she says people must ask about her art.

“I like the idea of people coming to it and not fully understanding it—maybe taking that home and thinking about what on earth was happening there,” she says.

Her five-decade career is honored in this first major retrospective, “Kay WalkingStick: An American Artist,” on view through Sept. 18, 2016, and includes more than 65 rarely exhibited works. Upon first seeing the installation, WalkingStick was overwhelmed. “I feel disconnected from the work somewhat, because I’ve always seen it in the studio or in a small gallery,” she says. “Much of it I haven’t seen for years.”

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