Kevin Red Star’s art is honored throughout Native America for its authenticity. It presents a shining vision of centuries-old Crow (Apsaalooka) culture through the eyes of a thoroughly contemporary consciousness. In the world of museums and private collections, he is equally respected for the content of his unique imagery, for his artistic productivity, and for the enduring value of his work.
Kevin Red Star grew up on the Crow reservation in southern Montana, a member of a highly creative family. He was known as the go-to artist for all school projects. He was chosen to be in the first group of students at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe in the late sixties, when the founders personally visited Native villages and reservations nationwide and recruited the most talented youngsters from each. The school provided a learning environment of tribal tradition, world art history, and current trends. Open studios, well stocked with supplies, encouraged individual experimentation and collaboration. Students mined their ancient customs for content, and then created exciting new forms to provide current relevance. Red Star and some of his friends in their graduating class continued their studies at the San Francisco Art Institute before embarking on their careers. They attracted immediate notice in New York and Paris, as well as established art centers throughout the United States. And they went on to change the face of modern Indian art.
In the decades that followed, each artist pursued an individual path. Some rose steadily, some erratically. Some sank into oblivion, and some passed on. Always, Kevin Red Star continued to paint. Year after year, through difficulty and triumph, grief and joy, he has created through his art an indelible expression of his tribal legacy. His fame has grown along with the increasing clarity and complexity of his paintings. He is known for his attention to historical detail in his depictions of warriors, ceremonies, costumes, and tipis. Each element, no matter how small, has specific meaning and significance within the context of tradition.
Above and beyond accuracy, Kevin Red Star’s deep experience is expressed in the color and composition of image after image. Each one is a complete statement in itself; each remains in the mind’s eye long after viewing it. Tipis cluster in close community, their long, graceful poles fanning out to catch the stars and sunbeams. Women gather for ceremonies in richly ornamented clothing. Warriors go forth on proud Appaloosa ponies, their bows and shields at the ready to protect their encampments. In every painting, the subject springs vividly to life, reflecting the mastery of style and technique he has gained over the course of the years.
Kevin Red Star continues to evolve and refine his art every day in his spacious studio, located near the Crow reservation and the resort town of Red Lodge, Montana. He also spends time in Santa Fe, where his career began. Each morning brings new facets of his vision to life on canvas, as he lives and works within the all-absorbing power of his art.
“Indian culture has in the past been ignored to a great extent. It is for me, as well as for many other Indian artists, a rich source of creative expression. An intertwining of my Indian culture with contemporary art expression has given me a greater insight concerning my art. I hope to accomplish something for the American Indian and at the same time achieve personal satisfaction in a creative statement through my art.” — Kevin Red Star