Yellow Bird: Fritz Scholder redefined Indian art
"Who is an Indian? For indigenous people, that’s one of the questions of this age. We’re at a time when physical traces of our ancestors may be hidden; or we may look like our ancestors, but assimilation has wiped out some of the culture.

Artist Fritz Scholder, who died in 2005, stood on the edge of that question. Even though his knowledge of Indian people seemed to permeate the very oil and brush strokes of his works, he once told People magazine that he was “no more an Indian artist than the man in the moon.” He was one-quarter Luiseno Indian.

I’ve known of Scholder’s work since I was a college student studying art at Western College in Oregon. Art fed my creative side, but it was my English major that provided the bread and butter in later years.

Scholder was coming of age in the art world during my years in Oregon. He was one of the few Indian artists included in my art history book. I believe the only other famous Indian artist was Oscar Howe, whose work was mainly sculpture. He was one of Scholder’s teachers.

Along with the modern artists such as Jasper John, Robert Motherwell or Paul Klee — giants in world of modern art — there stood the modern Indian paintings by Fritz Scholder. "

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COLUMNIST DORREEN YELLOW BIRD: Artist redefined American Indian art (The Grand Forks Herald 12/10)

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