I recently learned about the nonprofit Crow's Shadow Institute of the Arts, established in 1992 on the Umatilla Indian Reservation in eastern Oregon to provide opportunities for Native Americans to develop their artistic gifts. It owes its creation to artist James Lavadour, a Walla Walla and one of the Pacific Northwest's most renowned printmakers. Also an exceptional painter of abstract landscapes, Lavadour understands deeply art's value as a transformative tool.
The CSIA not only provides important youth services and educational and professional workshops on contemporary and traditional Native American art forms; it also is a world-class printmaking studio, where both emerging and established artists create monotypes, monoprints, and editions of lithographs, etchings, linocuts, and woodcuts.
It takes only a quick look at the online Prints section to grasp what outstanding art is being produced there. But don't give CSIA's Website only cursory attention. If, as I am, you appreciate and collect fine art prints, you will want to spend time learning about the artists who come to CSIA to work with Lavadour and collaborating master printer Frank Janzen, formerly of the Tamarind Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Among those artists are Rick Bartow, whose family has lived in Oregon for a century; Maori painter and printmaker Gabrielle Belz; glass artist Dale Chihuly, who created an edition to financially benefit the institute; Edgar Heap of Birds, internationally known for his public art, which uses traffic signs and other nontraditional media to make political statements; Truman Lowe, an innovative sculptor, former curator of contemporary art for the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, and professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin; award-winning photographer Larry McNeil; and multidisciplinary artist Marie Watt, who has completed a number of residencies at the CSIA and conducted most recently a personal flag workshop. Art created at the CSIA is available for purchase and fully documented. There are some wonderful finds among the hand-pulled prints.
You'll find a number of informative artist profiles at the CSIA site and on the institute's FaceBook page, beginning here.
Below is Oregon Art Beat's profile, first broadcast in 2009, of the CSIA:
An article about the CSIA appears in the current issue of NMAI's quarterly magazine Indian.
In 2000, Oregon Art Beat profiled founder Lavadour, who grew up on the Umatilla Indian Reservation; in the video, he discusses his marvelous work. Lavadour's paintings are the subject of James Lavadour: Landscapes (University of Washington Press, 2002).
Go here for additional information about Crow's Shadow Baskets, Dale Chihuly's six-color lithograph with handwork, printed by Janzen at Crow's Shadow Press.