Wendy Red Star

2024 Bonnie Bronson Fellow

Born in Billings, Montana on the Apsáalooke (Crow) reservation in 1981, Wendy Red Star has made Portland, Oregon her home since 2006. As a visual artist, Red Star’s breadth of media includes photography, sculpture, fiber arts, video, and performance. Deeply rooted in exploring her cultural heritage, particularly in the role of Native women, Red Star credits being raised immersed in Crow culture. Coming from a family of artists (a rock musician father and a traditional Apsáalooke regalia-maker grandmother), Red Star shared with the National Endowment for the Arts publication (No. 1, 2018 issue) that despite growing up in an economically poor reservation, “culturally, I grew up very rich.”

In this wealth and foundation, Red Star navigated graduate school and academic culture that at the time questioned identity-based work. Becoming more confident in her foundational upbringing Red Star has also been influential in expanding the discourse of American art, emphasizing the presence and strength of Native women in history, and fluidly deepening a practice that bridges intergenerational collaboration (including those with her daughter, Beatrice), through workshops, visiting lectures, curatorial projects, and extended programs tied to exhibitions.

A recent example of Red Star’s expanded practice and curatorial work can be experienced at the Seattle Art Museum. Installed in the American art galleries, American Art: The Stories We Carry (ongoing since October 20, 2022) presents a more inclusive reinterpretation of the museum’s historical collection. In reflecting on Red Star’s career and contributions to the region, Portland Art Museum’s The Minor White Senior Curator of Photography, Julia Dolan, Ph.D. states, “Wendy Red Star is deeply deserving of this honor. Her past collaborations with the Portland Art Museum were immensely thoughtful and collaborative in refreshing ways, and her artworks in our collection resonate strongly with visitors. While her work is internationally recognized and exhibited, she continues to live and work in Portland, to the great benefit of the local arts community.”

Red Star’s thoughtful and influential collaborations with museums have been evident for several years, including at the Joslyn Art Museum in 2021. Annika Johnson, Ph.D., Joslyn Art Museum’s Stacy and Bruce Simon Curator of Native American Art, reflected on her work with the artist: “Wendy is a vital and dynamic force in the contemporary art world. She approached her installation The Indian Congress at Joslyn Art Museum with genuine curiosity and a collaborative ethos that made working with her both a delight and a privilege. A witty skeptic with vast historical knowledge and a striking aesthetic, it is no wonder that Wendy’s ambitious archival projects captivate visitors and shake the colonial foundations of American history.”

Red Star has exhibited nationally and internationally including the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY), Brooklyn Museum (Brooklyn, NY), Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain (Paris, France), Portland Art Museum (Portland, OR), Joslyn Art Museum (Omaha, NE), The Anderson Collection at Stanford University (Stanford, CA), among others. Red Star’s work is also held in permanent collections across the country and internationally including the Museum of Modern Art (New York, NY), the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, NY), the Denver Art Museum (Denver, CO), Portland Art Museum (Portland, OR), and the British Museum (London, UK), among others. Red Star holds a BFA from Montana State University, Bozeman, and an MFA in sculpture from the University of California, Los Angeles. She is represented by Sargent’s Daughters. 

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