From carefully considered hard-edge geometrics to memory induced landscapes, Northern Cheyenne artist Jordan Ann Craig addresses personal history, cultural heritage and indigenous arts through meticulously executed paintings. Tia Collection is pleased to have acquired three paintings from Craig’s most recent body of work, which was presented in the Roswell Artist-in-Residence (RAiR) exhibition, Your Favorite Color is Yellow (August 14 – September 27, 2020).
Image above: Video still from The RAiR Foundation
During the 2019-20 Roswell-Artist-in-Residence program, where she was the first Native American woman artist to participate in RAiR’s history, Craig created works in response to the geography and atmosphere of New Mexico. As the title suggests, Colliding Clouds conjures the clashing drama of a Southwest storm. Visually charged with electric impulse, the complex geometric pattern forms a sense of optical vibration in what Craig described as a “massive argument in the sky.” The composition also points to traditional Native American patterning, a source of heritage and inspiration for the artist.
Image: Colliding Clouds, 2020, acrylic on canvas, 70 x 65 inches (177.8 x 165.1 cm)
My work keeps me up at night and gets me out of bed in the morning. I've forgotten how to sleep. I tell stories about my childhood, family, trauma, healing and the appealing mundane. Working in series, I explore subjects like the feeling of forgetting how to sleep, my relationships with my sisters, and the translation of language and dreams. The dots and shapes are my words; the stories are in their rhythm.
In Dot Drawing: White on Black no. 4, Craig translates liminal landscapes through a repetitive and meditative application of dotted white paint, a process akin to the unique painting traditions found in Aboriginal art. When viewed from afar, the accumulation of dots convey the impression of mountains and valleys — distant planes at the horizon’s edge that the artist recreates from peripheral memories. At closer inspection, they read like fringed layering of aged beadwork.
Image: Dot Drawing: White on Black no. 4, 2020, oil on canvas, 60 x 55 inches (152.4 x 139.7 cm)
My work is often beautiful, masking ugly histories. I keep Indigenous textiles and pottery, Aboriginal paintings, and landscapes in my periphery when I make art. My work is the exploration of existence, time and space, woven from cultural memory and epiphany. The process is meticulous and meditative, often obsessive in mark and repetition. My culture, personality, quirks, history, and family are inevitable influences, all fundamental to how and what I create. I seek to balance the familiar and the mysterious, shared stories and secrets.
Directly referencing Native beadwork, Lie Next to Me is an interpretation of the traditional Cheyenne patterns that have been a particular area of focus and study for the artist. Through digitally mapping the composition and perfectly rendering the painted surfaces, Craig determines to rid any evidence of her hand in the work. “I’m really trying to honor the original object and make something beautiful that came well before my time,” explains Craig, “I think why I intend the works to be so pristine and clean is that I want to protect the original object and revision it in a completely different way.”
Jordan Ann Craig is a Northern Cheyenne artist born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. She received her B.A. from Dartmouth College. Her work includes painting, prints, collages, textile prints and artist books. In 2017, Craig was awarded the H. Allen Brooks Traveling Fellowship (Society of Architectural Historians), as well as the Eric and Barbara Dobkin Fellowship at the School for Advanced Research, Santa Fe. In 2019, Craig was an artist in residence at Institute for American Indian Arts, as well as the Roswell Artist-in-Residence Program. She currently lives and works in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Image: Photo by Devlin Gandy at Institute for American Indian Arts
Video by Tonee Harbert (RAiR 2019-20), Courtesy of The Roswell-Artist-in-Residence Program