"Ledger art is the way we remember our life..."
ledger art images courtesy of artist
Sheridan MacKnight (Chippewa/Lakota) documents life stories exquisitely through her delicate portrayal of Native women and children in charming scenarios - all rendered in gouache or watercolor on antique ledger pages, 1920's sheet music of Native love songs or other paper ephemera.
Many of the ledger papers are given to her by other ledger artists, notes Macknight, or they are gifts from her collectors. But, the antique song sheets are special and she personally seeks them out to inspire her designs.
The painting above was created after MacKnight found the sheet music for the song Spring Song of the Robin Woman, composed by Charles Wakfield Cadman for the famous Native American Opera Singer Tsianina Redfeather (Creek/Cherokee). The opera made its debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 1918, and Redfeather also performed the opera at The Hollywood Bowl in 1926. The beautiful frame reminded MacKnight of the stage of an opera house.
S T U D I O V I S I T
MacKnight and her family live in Hermosa Beach, California, but have a second home in Santa Fe. She is here for Indian Market and invited my for a visit to see her latest work and to talk about her art.
Her charming Territorial home is tucked along a meandering street near Canyon Road, and this inviting porch says it all. And when I walked inside the charm continued...
In addition to her own art that pepper the walls, she is an avid collector of other artist's work...
As we walk through her house toward the studio, I can't help capturing her collection of colorful pottery and all the details that describe her personal aesthetic...
Note the jewelry...
When I visited, she was just putting the finishing touches on her new line of earrings. These hand painted rawhide feathers are
Sheridan MacKnight is a beautiful example of a woman who has found her direction and celebrates her Native roots with pride. And that centering and dynamic, she says, came from her greatest influence, her aunt, TAWACIN WASTEWIN, a remarkable American Indian educator who helped establish 17 tribal colleges, received a MacArthur Fellowship and was posthumously inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.
Q. Who is your favorite ledger artist?
A. George Flett - Spokane Tribe. His colors were vivid and his work was clearly from his soul. A true original. I hope that I will be remembered as an artist with 100% of my soul in my work, like I think of him.
S H E R I D A N M A C K N I G H T