Accession by Red Star evolved out of her Native Artist-in-Residence fellowship at the Denver Art Museum from 2016-2017. While in residence, Red Star used object card catalogues painted by Works Progress Administration artists that detailed the museum’s holdings of Native objects. Clothing and personal regalia objects were hand painted on small catalog cards with a written description on the reverse. The objects are beautifully rendered in watercolor by anonymous artists, who were often out of work commercial illustrators assigned to the Museums Extensions Projects during the 1930s-1970s.
I felt a connection with the artists who created the work, and I was jealous of the time they got to spend with my ancestors’ materials… I am amazed by the similarities in the coupling of a photograph of a martingale on my daughter’s parade horse with a WPA artist’s brilliantly-crafted drawing of a beaded geometric martingale from the 1930s. -Wendy Red Star
The resulting series is a vibrant meeting of past and present. It honors the artistry of the original makers who crafted the objects, as well as the anonymous artists who catalogued them. The Apsaalooke pieces are brought back to life, confirming their place in living history and the powerful legacy of her own Nation within the larger context of contemporary American art.
Red Star works across disciplines to explore the intersections of Native American ideologies and colonial structures, both historically and in contemporary society. Raised on the Apsáalooke (Crow) reservation in Montana, Red Star’s work is informed both by her cultural heritage and her engagement with many forms of creative expression, including photography, sculpture, video, fiber arts, and performance. She is an avid researcher of historic archives and oral traditions who seeks to incorporate and recast her research with new and unexpected perspectives. Intergenerational collaborative work is integral to Red Star’s practice, along with creating a forum for the expression of Native women’s voices in contemporary art.