Exploring Tradition: Contemporary Native American Art

January 12, 2022
Exploring Tradition: Contemporary Native American Art

For over seventeen thousand years, art has been one of the best ways cultural traditions have been preserved. Early generations have passed on key beliefs and stories through the creation of art. Current generations carry on the legacy through the creation of modern art. The continual process of creating and sharing art to preserve tradition has allowed future generations to learn and grow from their ancestors. For artists in the field of contemporary Native American art, this process of creating, sharing, and preserving is especially important.


The voices of Indigenous people in North America have been widely underrepresented in the world of art. American Western art history has significant gaps in integrating with Native American art history. This has happened even though Native cultures have contributed to Western civilization as we know it, especially in traditional arts. To continue on the traditions and cultural identity of their community, Native American artists have woven their stories into their traditional craftsmanship, such as jewelry, pottery, and headpieces. Over the years, modern Native American artists have carried the conversations of the past into the present through contemporary Native American art.


As a whole, contemporary Native American art reflects the ideas and values of modern Native people while preserving the traditions and culture of ancestors. As artistic expression continues to evolve, Native American artists have found new ways to share and preserve the traditions of their community. Through evocative photography, vibrant paintings, and intricate sculptures, modern Native American artists continue the conversations of their ancestors and affirm their unique cultural identity.


Contemporary Native American art plays a major role in the Courtney Collins Fine Art gallery. We recognize how vital it is for Native American voices to be represented in the fabric of modern art, and we want our gallery to reflect that. Our gallery features an immersive collection of paintings by Native American artists. Each of these artists weaves the traditions of Native American culture into their works to not only express their unique voices but to continue the legacy of their community.



Born and raised on the Crow reservation in southern Montana, Kevin Red Star weaves the heart of Crow (Apsaalooke) culture into his artwork. His paintings capture traditional Apsaaloke culture through a contemporary vision, depicting scenes of Appaloosa ponies, Crow warriors, and tipis. Through his use of rich colors, stark lines, and attention to historical detail, Kevin tells the unique stories of his heritage and brings them into the light of modern society. “Indian culture has in the past been ignored to a great extent,” Kevin Red Star says. “It is for me, as well as for many other Indian artists, a rich source of creative expression. An intertwining of my Indian culture with contemporary art expression has given me a greater insight concerning my art. I hope to accomplish something for the American Indian and at the same time achieve personal satisfaction in a creative statement through my art.”



Ben Pease grew up on the Crow Indian Reservation town of Lodge Grass, MT. This heritage has greatly influenced his artistic vision and storytelling. A descendant of the Crow and Northern Cheyenne Nations in South Eastern Montana, Ben says he is continually transitioning from a “so-called ‘Rez-Kid’ to a culturally rich contemporary storyteller.” Ben uses gritty textures and contrasting colors to create lasting statements about modern and past American Indian culture. Through dramatic paintings that blend modern imagery and traditional Native culture, Ben shows what it means to be an aboriginal from North America today. “I've recently crossed paths with the self-appointed task of narrating the Aboriginal struggles and aesthetics through my personal interpretation,” Ben says. “Whether my art focuses upon statements drawn from the aspect of an activist or based on cultural recording, I feel the need to educate and speak volumes.


To experience the beauty of these works of contemporary Native American art in person, visit Courtney Collins Fine Art. We feature a wide variety of Native American art for sale both online and in our Contemporary Western Art gallery. Stop by the gallery today and learn more about our upcoming art events in our gallery blog.

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