• Kay WalkingStick

  • To celebrate Kay WalkingStick joining the gallery, Hales is delighted to present an overview of the work of the American artist. Her works are currently included in Site, a three-person exhibition at Hales New York. Kay WalkingStick will have her first solo show with the gallery at Hales New York in 2022.
  • Primarily a painter, Kay WalkingStick (b. 1935 Syracuse, NY) has for over six decades explored the American Landscape and its...

    Kay WalkingStick in her studio in Easton, PA. Photo by Rich Schultz.

    Primarily a painter, Kay WalkingStick (b. 1935 Syracuse, NY) has for over six decades explored the American Landscape and its metaphorical significances to Native Americans and people across the world. WalkingStick has Cherokee/Anglo heritage, and she draws on the Native American experience as well as formal modernist painterly traditions to create works that connect the immediacy of the physical world with the spiritual. Attempting to unify the present with history, her complex works hold tension between representational and abstract imagery. Her paintings represent a knowledge of the earth and its sacred quality.

  • "THE PAINTINGS THEMSELVES EVOKE A MOOD, AN EMOTION, A RESPONSE TO A PLACE, OR AN IDEA, OR A CONCEPT, SO THAT IT IS NOT JUST A PICTURE OF A PLACE OR A CONCEPT OR A THING, BUT I WOULD HOPE A SOMEWHAT MORE COMPLEX LEVEL OF RESPONSE. MANY OF THEM, THE TEXTURE OF THE THING ITSELF, THE TEXTURE OF THE PAINTING, IS A PART OF THE WHOLE EXPERIENCE. ESPECIALLY THE EARLIER ONES."

  • From the mid-1970s WalkingStick shifted towards abstraction. In this critical period, WalkingStick’s paintings became increasingly geometric and minimalist.  Using her hands and a pallet knife to spread a mixture of acrylic paint and saponified wax on the canvases.  The thickly layered surfaces of these paintings are sculptural, creating a cartographic texture of ridges and valleys, suggesting geological formations or the earth seen far above.  As WalkingStick continued to explore conceptual ideas, she became fascinated by Native American histories and her own heritage.  

     

    In the 1980s after spending time in the Colorado Rockies, WalkingStick became enamored with the rugged western landscape there. She felt compelled to depict it combining abstraction with landscape in pairs of paintings joined together as diptychs. These iconic two paneled works directly combine traditional modes of landscape painting with the formally American abstraction of New York. Each work holds a duality, WalkingStick states, ‘the diptych is an especially meaningful metaphor to express the beauty and power of uniting the disparate and this makes it particularly attractive to those of us who are biracial.  It also visualizes the connection between our sacred earth and the cosmos, reminding us of the need to protect our planet.’

  • "My paintings aren’t exact depictions of a place; they are based on the look and feel of a place.
    Landscape paintings are depictions of nature
    re-organized by an artist. This is what landscape painters have always done.” 
  • In the 1990s WalkingStick lived in Rome for three semesters while teaching at Cornell University.  She traveled extensively and as one would expect, those travels had a profound effect on her work. During this time her experiences led her back to not only using brushes again, but also incorporating figures in her work – often dancing figures.  The golden interiors of the many churches led to her use of gold leaf referencing the spiritual or the unknown in a long series of paintings. 

  •  “I think artmaking is a visual record of our experience on earth" 
  • In her most recent works, WalkingStick paints single viewpoint landscapes of non-industrial  America, reclaiming the land by overlaying the paintings with designs of the Native American people who have inhabited or live there now. Sublime vistas are painted in fluid brushstrokes with bands of traditional Native American patterning floating on the surface, as if protecting them.

     

    WalkingStick’s practice is both a visual record of her experience on earth and her attempt to come to terms with Indian history that is such a crucial part of America's history. In these works of rich colors and bold forms there is a sense of ancestral presence and a deep connection to place.

  • WalkingStick has been included in many institutional exhibitions, including shows at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, MN; Crystal Bridges Museum...

    Kay WalkingStick, working on Rotation Piece in her attic studio, 1980.

    Photograph by Rhoda Sydney, courtesy Kay WalkingStick.

    WalkingStick has been included in many institutional exhibitions, including shows at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, MN; Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, AR; Whitney Museum of American Art, NY; Heard Museum, Phoenix, AR; Eiteljorg Museum, Indianapolis, IN; Morris Museum, Morristown, NJ;  Bruce Museum of Arts and Science, Greenwich, CT; Montclair Art Museum, NJ; National Gallery of Canada, ON; The New Museum, NY; Aldrich Museum, Ridgefield, CT; Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA; and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA.

     

    WalkingStick’s extensive retrospective at The National Museum of the American Indian, Washington DC, toured the United States to the Heard Museum, Phoenix, AZ; Dayton Art Institute, OH; Gilcrease Art Museum, Tulsa, OK; Kalamazoo Institute of Art, MI; and Montclair Art Museum, NJ (2015-2018).

  • Selected Artist Press