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Athena LaTocha

Athena LaTocha

Tribal Affiliation: Hunkpapa Lakota/Ojibwe

Born: 1969

Known for: Abstract innovative storytelling, printmaking, ink and earth, industrial solvents.

“Having grown up in Alaska, my understanding of the land was influenced by both the rugged monumentality of the terrain and the impact of the oil and gas industry upon the land. To this day, I feel a natural affinity for places and things that evoke those memories, such as the mountains and deserts of the southwest and excavation sites and earthmoving equipment found in the industrial landscape. “I unfurl large rolls of paper on the floor and immerse myself in the painting, much like being in the landscape. Working from the inside out, I disperse a palette of earth-toned inks with distilled water and industrial solvents and use aggressive tools such as wire brushes, scrap metal, and reclaimed tire shreds to push the ink around. Surrounded on all sides by the expanse of paper, I move through the work as if I am traversing the terrain.” – Athena LaTocha

Athena LaTocha, a Hunkpapa Lakota/Keweenaw Bay Ojibwe artist, was born in Anchorage, Alaska, in 1969 and lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.  She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, IL., and a Master of Fine Art from Stony Brook University, NY. After completing her studies, she apprenticed in bronze finishing at the Beacon Fine Art Foundry in Beacon, NY, and furthered her work in printmaking at the Art Students League of New York from 2008 to 2013.

LaTocha’s massive works on paper explore the relationship between human-made and natural worlds in the wake of Earthworks artists from the 1960s and 1970s. The artist incorporates materials such as ink, lead, earth, and wood while looking at correlations between mark-marking and displacement of materials made by industrial equipment and natural events. Her upbringing inspires her works in the wilderness of Alaska. LaTocha’s process is about being immersed in these environments while responding to the storied and, at times, traumatic cultural histories that are rooted in place.

Her work has been shown across the country in places such as the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR, IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, Santa Fe, NM, CUE Art Foundation and Artists Space, New York City, NY, South Dakota Art Museum, Brookings, SD, the Atká Lakota  Museum, St. Joseph’s Indian School, Chamberlain, SD, New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, LA, and the International Gallery of Contemporary Art in Anchorage, AK.

In 2019 she had solo exhibitions at JDJ | The Ice house in Garrison, N.; the Plains Art Museum in Fargo, ND, and the MacRostie Art Center in Grand Rapids, MN.  Also, in 2019, she was an artist-in-residence at the Joan Mitchell Center in New Orleans, LA.