Roanhorse describes use of mixed media

Staff Writer
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

Osage artist Addie Roanhorse spoke at ArtNight Jan. 22. This column is part two of what she shared with the audience at the Bartlesville Art Association’s design center. This week’s column focuses on her paintings.

Roanhorse began working for the Osage Nation after graduating from Rogers State University with a degree in graphic design. At the Osage Nation she serves as a graphic designer and photographer. The daughter of Osage artist, the late Gina Gray, Roanhorse is also an accomplished painter.

Roanhorse uses mixed media into her paintings.

She showed a painting of an Osage woman and said, “There’s nothing more of an indicator that connects Osage people to their land then oil. I’m also a seamstress, so I decided to cut [oil lease maps] up … I’m making a shirt out of it.”

The forehead of the woman’s face was red. Roanhorse used red tissue paper to create this effect. She used molding paste and acrylic paint applied in beads from a cake-decorating bag to give the art more dimension.

Roanhorse showed a slide of another piece that she said was reminiscent of screen printing.

She showed another portrait of a woman with Prismacolor on canvas with ledger paper from 1897 utilized for clothing.

“It’s pretty delicate, but when I get it down, it’s nice.”

She showed another portrait containing actual Pawhuska phone book strips.

She said, “in Pawhuska the first three digits are always 287. Growing up visiting Pawhuska, I just thought it was the funniest thing when somebody gave their phone number — they’d just give the last four digits.”

She showed a painting of her grandfather, which included Osage orthography.

“I created stencils and spray paint to kind of give it a different effect. And then that’s an actual photograph. …”

On the next slide, she showed a painting of her grandmother, which she described as “more calm” than the one of her grandfather. At the bottom of the painting were red hand prints in a row.

“Those are my daughter’s hand prints from when she was 5. “The red hand represents friendship on our blankets that we make,” she said.

She showed a painting of her great-great grandfather, Henry Roan.

“Now that you get access to everything on the internet, I stumbled upon the FBI files. You can literally pour through documents, and so I started printing off documents. … there are actual pieces of the story. Western Union communication back and forth with Hoover. So, I thought that was an interesting way to present it, and you have to get up close to it to see it — to read it.”

For another of her paintings she went to her elders committee to ask for permission to depict tattoos.

“My biggest fear is that someone will see it and be like, ‘oh yeah, I’m going to go get tattoos,’ but these are warrior tattoos. I got the clearance from them. … It’s another opportunity for me to talk about my people and get firsthand information. … With the internet people just assume they know what they want to know about us, but if you open a dialogue with people that ask questions about it — I think that’s the best way you can.”

In another painting she uses stippling to create the appearance of a lazy stitch used in Osage beadwork.

Next week’s column will focus on Roanhorse’s graphic design and photography.