Art Basel | Online Viewing Room | OVR: Pioneers: Kay WalkingStick

24 - 27 March 2021 Art Fairs

Hales are delighted to present works by Kay WalkingStick which explore a symbolic and spiritual connection to land. Painting sites laden with historical association, WalkingStick’s sublime vistas are overlaid with traditional Native American designs.


Primarily a painter, Kay WalkingStick (b. 1935 Syracuse, NY) has for over six decades explored the American Landscape and its metaphorical significances to Native Americans and people across the world. WalkingStick has Anglo and Cherokee heritage, and she draws on the Native American experience as well as painterly traditions to create works that connect the immediacy of the physical world with the spiritual. Attempting to unify the present with history, her complex works hold tension between representational and abstract imagery. The paintings represent a knowledge of the earth and its sacred quality.


WalkingStick’s practice in recent years has predominantly focused on singleviewpoint landscapes of non-industrial America. In the majestic paintings, WalkingStick reclaims the land by overlaying the sites with designs of the Native American people who have inhabited the area or live there now. Sublime vistas are painted in fluid brushstrokes with bands of traditional Native American patterning dancing on the surface, as if protecting them. The delicate presence of the brightly coloured designs transform the panoramic vistas into actively spiritual sites that remain meaningful to many. WalkingStick suggests that painting the landscape ‘is a dialogue with the mythic, the spiritual, with that with which transcends our bittersweet daily lives.’ The power and eternal quality of nature is felt in the monumental mountains, canyons, cliffs and vast skies. The landscapes reflect a balance between memory and lived experience, subtly evoking her personal history. 


WalkingStick’s practice is both a visual record of her experience on earth and an attempt to come to terms with a Native American history that has been forgotten or ignored. In works of rich colors and bold forms there is a sense of ancestral presence and a deep connection to place.

Installation Views