Kay WalkingStick: This Is Our Beloved Land

A citizen of the Cherokee Nation, Kay WalkingStick is one of the world’s most illustrious artists of Native American ancestry. She describes herself as an artist, a mother, and a biracial woman, and explains that her goal “has always been to paint about who I am as a 20th/21st century artist, and also as a Native American. … My wish has been to express our Native and non-native shared identity.”

Museums throughout the country have exhibited her work and dozens here and in other countries have included her in their permanent collections. A short list includes museums in Buffalo, Denver, Chattanooga, Philadelphia, New York, Ottawa, Jerusalem, and, in Washington DC, the National Museum of the American Indian, the National Gallery, and the Library of Congress.

Here is how WalkingStick describes her work: “My present paintings of mountains and sea are vistas of memory – our America the beautiful. They are meant to glorify our land and honor those people who first lived upon it.” Once she painted uninhabited landscapes that she “sought in relation to the eternal. In my present work it is the golden skies that refer to the eternal, and therefore the paintings remain about the unknowable – the mythic.”

Of her technique, she says, “Today, most of my paintings could be described as a single viewpoint landscape, usually with an additional pattern as in the past which is often integrated into the landscape. What do these changes represent? My painting is not “/alla prima/.” It isn’t made in one energetic outpouring of paint. It is, by contrast, deliberate and resolved, like a great meal cooked by a chef.”

Many of her works are diptychs. She finds the form “an especially powerful metaphor to express the beauty and power of uniting the disparate and this makes it particularly attractive to those of us who are biracial. But it is also a useful construct to express the conflicts and bivalence of everyone’s life. So there is a duality implied even when the work is not physically a diptych. …”

We have included works that depict the sea: “I love the muted colors – I love the sea air, the feel of it and smell of it. I would like these paintings to convey that feeling of the sea, as well as the look of it.” On the geology of the Sierra Nevada mountains: “I don’t own it intellectually or visually the way I feel I “own” the mountains of the southwest, or the waters of the east coast. These are different mountains – awesome and foreboding.” And of her many heavenly works: “the sky took its appropriate place as our great back-drop. Our lovely metaphor for the future, for heaven, for beauty, for goodness, for home and for eternity.”

Here is WalkingStick’s primary message: “I would hope that these paintings encourage the viewer to see our shared humanity in all of its gritty, frightening, awkward, sexy, funny and beautiful commonality. . . . This is our beloved land, no matter who walks here, no matter who ’owns’ it.”



1. Over-the-Sierra-Nevadas
Over the Sierra Nevadas, 2014
oil/panel, 36″ x 72″
Artist’s collection, available through the June Kelly Gallery.


2. Mackerel-Sky-Newport

Mackerel Sky Newport, 2014
oil/panel, 12″ x 24″
Artist’s collection, available through the June Kelly Gallery.


3. Newport-Sunset

Newport Sunset, 2014
oil/panel, 12″ x 24″
Artist’s collection, available through the June Kelly Gallery.


4. New_Mexico_Arroyos

New Mexico Arroyos, 2011
oil on wood panel, 32″ x 64″
Private collection.


5. St-Marys-Mountain

St Mary’s Mountain, 2012
oil/panel, 36″ x 72″
Artist’s collection, available through the June Kelly Gallery.


7. blame_mtnsIII

Blame the Mountains III, 1998
oil/wood, oil, brass leaf/canvas, 32” x 64”
Allentown Museum collection.


8. Lush-Life-2015

Lush Life, 2015
aluminum leaf & oil/panel, 32 ” x 64″
On 3 year loan to the Denver Art Museum.


9. Were_Still

We’re Still Dancing, 2006
oil/panel, 32″ x 64″
Hunter Museum collection in Chatanooga, TN. 


10. Wallowa_Mountains_Memory_Var

Wallowa Mountains Memory, 2004
oil & gold leaf/wood, 36″ x 72″
Metropolitan Museum collection.


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  2. I’m always hoping a Native artist can come forth to lead the way back, and in, and
    forward with their vision of the land, and our relation to it.

    This work is beautiful and healing—as she says, bridging both cultures….the work
    is trustworthy, and real…

    Thank you Persimmon Tree for bringing her forth…

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