JoAnne BirdSantee Sioux
Born in Oakland, California in 1945 and an enrolled member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota Nation, Bird was raised in northeastern South Dakota by her grandmother who played a major role in her creativity from infancy to young adulthood.
Bird knew from early childhood her destiny was to be an artist. After graduating from high school in Flandreau, South Dakota, she received art training at Dakota State University located in Madison, South Dakota; Macalister College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and the Institute of American Indian Art at Santa Fe, New Mexico.
After working for the 3M Company, Bird decided to leave the commercial art field to devote her life to a fulltime professional art career.
Bird’s paintings depict her Native American heritage, mainly portraying the rich traditional way of life and blending them in a contemporary, modern way. Much of her work is spiritual in nature and timeless. At times, her work employs rich bold colors in a fluid motion presenting images of warriors and horses that seem to be approaching the viewer straight off the canvas. Bird’s work can also make viewers see a wintry scene and feel the chill of the wind and snow.
Her technique and mastery of handling a paint brush with such precision is a quality that is unique, a technique that she creates through a combination of controlled paint throwing and palette knife.
In addition to painting, Bird is an accomplished sculptor working in bronze. Her sculptures, many larger than life, can be found throughout the United States and Europe.
In recent years, Bird began to make prints of her original work on canvas or watercolor paper, utilizing an increasingly acceptable popular technique known as giclée prints.
Bird has won numerous awards and honors for her work and in 1992 was inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame as Artist of the Year.
Bird’s artwork is available through the Akta Lakota Museum online gallery.