Jaune Quick-to-See Smith
Jaune Quick-to-See Smith (b. 1940) is an enrolled member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Nation in Montana. Deeply connected to her heritage, Smith creates work that is rooted in storytelling.
Indian, Indio, Indegenous (1992) by Jaune Quick-to-See SmithNational Museum of Women in the Arts
NMWA Curator Orin Zahra discusses Jaune Quick-to-See Smith
Her politically charged and humorous imagery combines texts and popular culture alongside desert landscapes, horses, maps, and petroglyphs. Smith refers to paintings like "Indian, Indio, Indigenous" as narrative landscapes.
We see pictographs of the natural world, like bear, coyote, and deer juxtaposed with mocking inscriptions, such as “It takes hard work to keep racism alive” and “Money is green: it takes precedence over nature.”
Four Directions (1994) by Jaune Quick-to-See SmithNational Museum of Women in the Arts
Smith sharply critiques the destruction of the environment and Native American culture as a result of Euro-American influence and corporate greed.
Smith calls herself a cultural arts worker. Not only is she an artist, but she is also an educator, curator, and activist.
Charlo 1-85 (1985) by Jaune Quick-to-See SmithNational Museum of Women in the Arts
While training in the arts, she recalls being told by a professor that women could not be artists and later discovered that only Native American men exhibited in galleries.
Cocopelia (1985) by Jaune Quick-to-See SmithNational Museum of Women in the Arts
Smith became dedicated to championing Native American women artists and has consistently organized and curated exhibitions since the 1970s.
Through her artwork, activism, lectures, and writings, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith has continually strived for greater understanding of Native American culture and its inclusion in the American mainstream.
Grey Canyon Artists: Contemporaries of Jaune Quick-to-See Smith
In 1977 Smith founded a group of Indigenous artists in Albuquerque, New Mexico, known as the Grey Canyon Artists. The name was a metaphor for the city surroundings and signified the transition and pushback of Indigenous artists from the more stereotypical "traditional" mediums. The group consisted of Smith, Larry Emerson, Conrad House, Paul Little, Felice Lucero, Ed Singer, and Emmi Whitehorse.
Emmi Whitehorse was born in Crownpoint, New Mexico, in 1957 and is a member of the Navajo nation. Through her artworks, such as "Jackstraw" (2000), she represents the Navajo philosophy of "Hózhó," which refers to the interconnectedness of harmony, beauty, wellness, and order.
Jackstraw (2000) by Emmi WhitehorseNational Museum of Women in the Arts
Hózhó guides and informs Whitehorse’s abstract paintings as she explores the balance between paint, pastel, and graphite to tell the story of the connection between land and life.
While an undergraduate at the University of New Mexico, Whitehorse joined the Grey Canyon Group, founded by Smith, who was pursuing an MFA at the university at the same time.
A Lasting Impact
The Grey Canyon Group had exhibitions across the U.S. for four years. Since then, Smith has had 80 solo exhibitions, organized and curated 30 Indigenous exhibitions, and spoken at 200 universities, museums, and conferences. Her influence and lasting impact continues to be felt.
"I think I’m a miracle and I say that whenever I talk to an audience. I tell them: 'I'm a miracle, and any Native person here is a miracle.'"
Jaune Quick-to-See Smith to The New York Times