Above: Il Sogno del Cortile / (The Dream of the Courtyard), 2004 / Gold leaf, serigraph, woodcut, 5/50 / Gift of the Experimental Printmaking Institute, Lafayette College. Now on view in the Main Gallery’s exhibition thi(ink)ing.
Kay WalkingStick was born in 1935 to a mother of Scottish heritage and to a father of Cherokee heritage. It would be her father’s heritage that would inspire her journey as an artist. She graduated in 1959 from Beaver College in Glenside, PA with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. In 1975 she received her Masters of Fine Arts from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York and went on to be an artist-in-residence at a number of art institutions.
Early in WalkingStick’s career she focused on a style that she described as “hard-edged” and “realistic.” Her works slowly became more abstract and this is where she found her niche. Her pieces started to pop up in exhibitions in New York City, at a time when Native American artist were not exhibited. Many of her pieces explored what she called her “Indianness.” She used impasto and wax encaustic techniques, and at times would paint using her hands, as did early Native American artists.
In the 1980’s WalkingStick started to make abstract landscape diptychs for which she would become nationally and internationally known. A diptych is any object with two flat planes, hinged together. On one panel she would create an abstract work, while on the other side she created a piece that was realistic. Her diptychs mainly featured landscapes, such as her well known piece Gioioso Variation 1 (2001) which was inspired by her trips to the Alps. On one side stands the crevices and points of the Alps and on the other side two pairs of legs dance together on an abstract background.
WalkingStick’s works are in the collections of over 40 art museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Israel Museum and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. She now lives in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York with her husband, Dirk Bach.