Neal Ambrose-Smith, Seeing Through the Noise

The Weight of Thought, 30×22 inches, Xerox tone ink on paper

I thoroughly enjoyed this conversation with Neal Ambrose-Smith, in advance of the Allegories of Transformation exhibit at the PACE Center. We had never met–never even talked to each other, but in this time of COVID, we just jumped in. We had set a time to talk for an hour, if need be. Two hours later, we were still talking and laughing and having a great time.

Do Fish Dream? 30×22 inches. graphite, India ink, house paint

The amazing things I learned about Neal that didn’t make it on the video are that he is keeping the archive of all his mother, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith’s work. The two of them often critic each other’s work and freely admit that they borrow ideas, an exchange that has made for a dynamic explosion of work, thoughts and ideas.

The other incredible aspect to Neal’s life and work is his commit to youth and teaching at the Institute of American Indian Art. I was able to leave in part of that conversation–incredible, truly, the issues he and his team deal with on a day-to-day basis.

Visit the Allegories of Transformation exhibit online at The PACE Center.

Jaune Quick-to-See Smith

Untitled, 24 x 15.5 inches, monotype
Untitled, 24 x 15.5 inches, monotype
Untitled, 24 x 15.5 inches, monotype
Untitled, 24 x 15.5 inches, monotype

Pinning down Jaune Quick-to-See Smith for an hour is no easy feat. At 80, Smith is actively making art that responds to social, environmental, and political issues–subject matter that is not short on these days–she is lecturing, teaching and curating, connecting her fellow Indigenous artist with each other to find opportunities. And, if all that wasn’t enough, she’s raising her young granddaughters.

For this interview, her son, a well-respected artist in his own right, as well as a professor at the Institute of American Indian Arts, Neal Ambrose Smith, orchestrated our call on Zoom. While most interviews have been edited down to seven to eight minutes, I decided to let this one ride. Partly because talking to Smith is a bit like getting an audience with the Oracle, but also because one hour turned into nearly three; every bit of which was full of her forthright and learned insights into her work and the Native American way of life.

And, I loved the crazy thing that happened as we were starting the conversation–talk about an icebreaker. Something popped in front of her camera and blurred her image then, just as quickly, darted away. Her reaction to that was priceless and a great way to kick things off.

To download a copy of the article I wrote on Smith for Western Art & Architecture, CLICK here. Also, to read my full interview with Jaune, CLICK here.

And so, without further ado, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith.