THE WORK AND THE ARTIST
Artist: Smith, Jaune Quick-to-See
Title/Date: Habitat Isn’t Just for Wildlife, 1997.
Description of the work:
This screen-print is composed of three separate colored layers of blue, red, and black. The blue images are placed against textured, lighter blue background of an overview of a landscape including drawings related to the Old West such as wagons, simple houses surrounded by birds, trees, leaves, and a Native-American cardinal points emblem. The red layer is superimposed against the entire landscape with the outline profile of a horse. The third layer consists of black text on the upper and lower sections of the composition: Look before you link. coming diagonally from the head of the horse and Habitat Isn’t Just for Wildlife framed in a box on the bottom center of the composition.
The work addresses the relationships between the land and the life which inhabits it. The landscape helps to highlight the space which all life shares, placing people, their structures, and the natural habitat around it into a single context. The text addresses this as well, placing an emphasis on the usual separation of humans and nature in Western thinking, asking the viewer to reconsider this relationship. There is a concern with the ethnographic and historical distance we place on nature and on Native American cultures. As a Native American activist, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith uses the horse to represent the strain that Western culture has had on indigenous land and societies.
Jaune Quick-to-See Smith was born at St. Ignatius Jesuit Mission on the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Reservation in 1940. Her father was an accomplished horse trainer and trader whom her and her sister lived with after their mother abandoned them when she was two years old. They were mostly poor and accompanied their father in his travels spending part of their lives in foster homes. She is a member of the Flathead Nation and descendent of French Cree and Shoshone ancestors. She gained contact with the tribe after she became a successful artist in the 1970s. She was introduced to art in the Public School system as a child and received her BA in art Education at Framingham State College in Massachusetts in 1976 and her MA at the University of New Mexico in 1980.
Smith’s work has often focused on educational projects, organizing artist collectives, curation exhibits, as well as giving lectures, panels, talks, and workshops. She considers herself an artist and cultural worker with her work often being political in nature dealing with issues about the relationship between land and its inhabitants. The main focus of her work deals with inhabited landscapes using collage, drawing and other media creating tactile and complex surfaces inspired by the works of modern artists such as Pablo Picasso, Paul Keel, and Robert Rauschenberg. She’s often looking to question our assumptions of history asking questions about what Native American art is and should look like, mixing cultural symbols from popular cultural and Native traditions creating a tension between imposing ideas about indigenous beliefs.
Signed: Signed first and last names, Jaune Smith, in pencil, not including her Native name, in the bottom right corner of the image.
Date and dimension: 1997; Full paper size: 31 ¼” x23 ¼” Print: 24” x 16″
Accession # and Acquisition Date: acc #: 2000.02.02b Date: 2000
Provenance and Exhibitions: UNK
Framed or Flat: Framed
Current location: This piece is a part of the permanent collection at New Mexico State University art gallery.
– Berlo, Janet Catherine and Ruth B. Phillips, “The North,” in Native North
American Art (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015), 165-205.
– Lawrence Abbot ed., “Jaune Quick-to-See Smith,” in I Stand in the Center of the
Good: Interviews with Native American Artists (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1994) 209-232.
Researched By: Saul Ramirez, 24 November 2016