Cathy A. Smith - She dances with wolves!

Cathy A. Smith is an Emmy Award winning costume designer of period western films. She has created stunning, authentic 19th century costumes - down to
 the last bead and feather - for more than 30 movies - Dances with Wolves
 to Calamity Jane.

Photo courtesy of C.A.Smith

She learned her craft early and well, growing up on a ranch in western South Dakota, tucked between two Sioux reservations. She  mastered traditional Native American art forms, design, and techniques, and is an expert in the sacred art of porcupine quill work. And her home, near the Nambe Trading Post, is filled with the rich trappings of a prolific and meticulous artistic life.

But, before you even step inside her charming adobe home, her boot tree - hung with dozens of vintage boots - hints at the fun that is afoot. Gosh did I really write that?

Photos by C. Whitney-Ward

A mini museum awaits. Gorgeous costumes from many of her movies are displayed and beg for an up-close moment of appreciation. The details are astonishing, each correctly capturing the nuance and design of another culture and time.

Now comes the fun part. The afternoon of my visit was really a photo shoot for an artist friend who commissioned Cathy to find a model and dress him in authentic costumes for a painting she was about to begin. Because she never knows when the painting muse will strike, it's difficult for her to always  paint from a live model. So she creates the scene and paints from her photographs.

The model that Cathy found looked as if he had just stepped out of a time machine. Mohawk and all...

A change of costume and he was sprouting feathers on his shoulders...

And bear claws around his neck...

And what's a warrior without his horse?

An amazing afternoon. Topped off with a peek at Cathy's latest endeavor, paintings - meticulous and authentic down to the last stroke of paint.

Thank you Cathy for allowing me into your extraordinary world.

Photo courtesy of C.A. Smith

And thank you Steve for the ride in the time machine...

Artist, Costume Designer, Historian


1 comment:

  1. We just met her a couple weeks ago at the Santa Fe Flea! She was working on some amazing beadwork, but stopped to chat with us. What an interesting woman! And these pics are great. Love the boot tree!