Kay WalkingStick: An American Artist (2016-2018)

A survey of the five-decade long career of one of today’s most accomplished Native American artists and a leading practitioner of contemporary landscape painting.

Kay WalkingStick: An American Artist surveys the career of one of today’s most accomplished Native American artists and a leading practitioner of contemporary landscape painting. Over the course of five decades, WalkingStick has avidly explored her own hybrid cultural identity, engaging Native history along with feminism, Minimalism, and other key art historical movements. She has become particularly renowned for her majestic and sensual landscapes, which imbue natural scenery with the charge of personal and collective memory.

The exhibition reveals WalkingStick’s diverse approaches to painting over the decades—from graphic figurative work to lushly layered expressionism—and includes a range of her signature diptychs. Co-curators Kathleen Ash-Milby, Associate Curator at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), and David Penney, NMAI’s Associate Director of Museum Scholarship, have selected some 60 of the artist’s most notable works, drawn from public and private collections. In addition to tracing WalkingStick’s artistic journey, the exhibition engages issues of race, identity, and national history, which are key themes not only to contemporary Native art but to American culture at large. This touring retrospective is the first to fully examine WalkingStick’s singular career, demonstrating the breadth of her achievements.



Heard Museum, Phoenix, AZ
October 15, 2016–January 8, 2017
Dayton Art Institute, Dayton, OH
February 11–May 7, 2017
Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, Kalamazoo, MI
June 17–September 10, 2017
Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa, OK
October 5, 2017–January 7, 2018
Montclair Art Museum, Montclair, NJ
February 3–June 17, 2018


This sumptuously designed and richly detailed catalogue provides a comprehensive retrospective of WalkingStick’s abundant career. It includes essays by the curators Kathleen Ash-Milby and David Penney, as well as texts Margaret Archuleta, Jessica L. Horton, Robert Houle, Lucy R. Lippard, Miles R. Miller, Kate Morris, Judith Ostrowitz, and Lisa Roberts Seppi that explore different aspects of her artistic production and her undeniable place in the history of art.

Publisher: National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution, 2015
Dimensions: 9 ¾ x 11 ½ in.
Format: Hardcover, 208 pp
ISBN: 978-1-58834-510-3


Kathleen Ash-Milby is an associate curator at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) in New York. A member of the Navajo Nation, she has organized numerous exhibitions, including C. Maxx Stevens: House of Memory (2012), HIDE: Skin as Material and Metaphor (2010), and Off the Map: Landscape in the Native Imagination (2007), and was co-director of the American Indian Community House gallery in New York City from 2000–05. She served on the boards of the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective, American Indian Community House, and Native American Art Association.

David Penney is the associate director of museum scholarship at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI). Formerly the vice president of exhibitions and collections strategies and curator of Native American art at the Detroit Institute of Arts, he is the curator and catalogue author for Indigenous Beauty: Masterworks of American Indian Art from the Diker Collection (2015), co-curator fro the exhibition Before and After the Horizon: Anishinaabe Artists of the Great Lakes (2013) for the NMAI and the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the author of North American Indian Art (2004).


The exhibition is organized by the American Federation of Arts and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.