3D Works with a Native American Flair
No other medium is more fun for me to work with than mixed media. The creative possibilities are endless. I mix new objects with old objects, contemporary and traditional, steel with porcelain, beads and feathers ... you name it, anything goes.
As with all of my other art, my mixed media works of art tell stories about my Native American ancestors. But with mixed media, I'm sometimes able to elaborate a little more on the story ... jazz it up a bit, add a different twist or angle.
Of all the media that I work in, it's the mixed media pieces that make me feel most creative. It's like playing.
The Salmon rattle pictured at the top of this column is an example not just of mixed media, but of mixing tribal traditions as well. Salmon rattles are a popular form of rattle for Native tribal groups of the Pacific Northwest coast, but not necessarily for tribal groups along the Columbia River where Lillian's ancestors lived. Still, Salmon are extremely important to the cultures and lifeways of the Columbia River people, so Lillian decided to create a Salmon rattle in a fashion she thought would represent her own ancestry.
The result is what you see pictured above ... a Salmon "cage" made out of copper, with porcelain Salmons and other traditional objects placed inside. Pick it up by the handle at the top, shake it ... and it rattles!
Crow, Trying to Fix Up His Old House
Lillian has created hundreds of unique mixed media pieces over the years, but she still remembers the stories of how most of them came about. Here, for example, is her story about the piece titled "Crow, Trying to Fix Up His Old House."
I collect old things and objects from nature that look interesting to me, and then I ponder how they can be used. I collect shells rocks, metal containers, wood ... whatever. I've become a real pack rat.
And all this stuff just sits around my studio while I keep looking at it and picking it up, and wondering what I'm going to do with it ... until finally an idea comes.
So an artist friend of mine, Rick Bartow, knew I collected old things, and gave me an old piece of wood he thought I might like. Eventually I ended up putting Crow on it. But it took a while to figure out what to do.
The board, you see, was cracked, so I mended it up with copper wire, which made me think of my old home in "Hollywood." That's what we called the place on the Warm Springs Reservation where we lived when I was a young girl. It was a joke of course, because all the homes there were old and dilapidated, and we were always trying to patch them up with whatever types of odds and ends might be laying around over there.
But now I had the idea. With my old home in mind, what turned out was this dilapidated old piece of wood, some rusty metal and some other found objects ... with Crow, beautiful anagama-fired Crow ... just like the beautiful people I knew growing up on the Warm Springs Reservation ... trying to fix up his old house.
Here's one of the most recent mixed media pieces Lillian has created. This particular piece is called "Crow Looking East."
In this latest series of works, Lillian nestles her anagama sculptures into custom-made maple burlwood bases in ways that make the bases a fully integrated part of the sculpture.
A Near Life-Size "Stick Indian"
This interpretation of a Stick Indian was on display at the Oregon Historical Society when Lillian had her exhibit there titled "Building on the Frames of My Ancestors."
According to Warm Springs legend, when an Indian travels high up in the mountains in a lonely place and hears the sound of a certain bird, especially in the evening, he knows it is probably not a bird at all, but a "Stick" Indian.
If you're a bad person and you follow the whistle of a Stick Indian, it will lead you deeper and deeper into the woods so you can't get out. If you're a good person, the whistle will guide you out of the woods so you can get home.