Wendy Red Star creates work that rewrites Western culture’s Native American narrative. It isn’t that she erases the history of her forefathers – it is that she challenges the exoticized gaze that is often shed upon Native peoples. The 35-year-old artist and mother makes art that proves that Native voices have a place in every sect of American culture – especially the contemporary art world. Her series ‘White Squaw’ debunks the grossly racist and sexist tropes that still haunt Native Americans today. She does this by inserting herself into eerily familiar erotic novel covers where Native women are depicted as oversexed, wild, and insatiable figures.
Wendy’s childhood on the Montana Crow Indian Reservation is marked by Apsáalooke craft and she cites her uncle, artist Kevin Red Star, as a main source of inspiration – thus proving that her creativity has been in steady development from a very young age. Today, the inclusion of family lineage is strong in Wendy’s work, shown through her frequent collaborations with her 9-year-old daughter.
Identifying as an ‘identity-based’ artist, Red Star’s work expands outside of tackling issues of gender and sex. Her series ‘My Home is Where My Tipi Sits’ is poignantly intimate. ‘Four Seasons’ is certain to make you second-guess the Native American imagery you’ve seen in popular culture. ‘Thunder Up Above’ is keenly futuristic, uprooting the spectator to another dimension of Red Star’s work completely. There is beauty in art that challenges one’s intellect and Wendy does just that – spectators must think critically about the racist messaging around Native Americans that most of us have received in popular culture and daily life for the majority of our lives. There is no such thing as a passive witness when digesting Wendy’s work, a beautiful example of art expanding intellect.
Get acquainted with more of Wendy Red Star’s work below and visit her website here to dive deeper.