Kay WalkingStick is a Native American artist who focuses on the American landscape and its significance. After a half-century of artistic work, Kay WalkingStick was recognized in a career survey at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington. She was the first Native American artist to appear in H. W. Janson’s “History of Art” (fifth edition, 1995).
WalkingStick received her B.A. in 1959 and completed her M.F.A. in 1975 at Pratt Institute, supported by a Danforth Foundation Graduate Fellowship for Women. Her first solo exhibition was in New York City in 1969. She was part of the 1970s New York painting scene and exhibited in various New York galleries. She was a professor in the Department of Art at Cornell University and is now a faculty emerita.
Both Cherokee and Scottish-Irish, WalkingStick dealt with her Native American ancestry in a series of powerful diptychs that juxtaposed landscape images with symbolic or geometric abstractions. She would make an abstract work on one side and a realistic, figurative image on the other, using two ways to represent the world. Her abstraction is the continuation of realism. She sees the diptych as a way ”of uniting the disparate and this makes it particularly attractive to those of us who are biracial.”
WalkingStick received grants from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, the Joan Mitchell Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Eiteljorg Fellowship for Native American Fine Art. Her works are in the public collections of museums such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.