Genesis/Violent Garden

Kay WalkingStick American and Citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma

Not on view

Over the course of her career, WalkingStick (Cherokee) has explored a wide range of styles and materials in her painted landscapes, juxtaposing representational scenery with abstract pattern, often reflecting on Indigenous history and identity. This imposing, square-format composition collapses distinctions between painting and sculpture while inferring painful states of being. The painting’s surface has been built up through the application of layers of wax mixed with pigment and seashell fragments. Incisions were then added in predominantly vertical lines. This incising technique, particularly the arch form at left of center, recalls a series of thirty-six small rectangular paintings that WalkingStick dedicated to Chief Joseph (Nez Percé), who, in 1877, after refusing to sign away Indian land to the United States government, led his people on an arduous and ultimately ill-fated exodus to Canada (1974–76; National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution). A particularly deep cut near the center, accentuated with red paint, registers visually and conceptually as a wound, while the work’s evocative two-part title evokes an origin story borne of violence.

Genesis/Violent Garden, Kay WalkingStick (American and Citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, born Syracuse, New York, 1935), Acrylic and wax over ink with modeling paste, broken seashells and metallic particles on canvas

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