“Ghost Dancer”, ink and metallic acrylic glazes on 24″H x 24″W x 2″D Ampersand™ Claybord™. View the rest of the painting’s progress here. I will be donating all proceeds to with exception of shipping and materials.


This piece was painted in one day.

The figure is Chief Sitting Bull, Sioux Chief and Lakota holy man, and rumored by my grandmother to be a distant relative of ours. She was an ardent amateur genealogist and passionate about Native American spirituality and affairs. I grew up in Plymouth County, Massachusetts, where many of the descendents of the Wampanoag tribe who first encountered the pilgrims lived. Home of Plimoth Plantation, that little rock that got so famous for no real reason, and Native-inspired names of cities and towns no one outside of New England could ever pronounce or understand their contentious origins – as a young and pasty-white child I was taught native folklore and brought to pow-wows. I was taught the mythology of Thanksgiving just like every kid is – and I also knew the truth.

Chief Sitting Bull sits in his most recognized pose here. If you research his life, you understand he fought fiercely for the land of his people. If you research his death, you’ll find that he died at Standing Rock, by the hands of a Native officer, for harboring the likes of Wovoka, a Piaute indian renamed Jack Wilson, who created the Ghost Dance – of which “proper practice of the dance would reunite the living with spirits of the dead, bring the spirits of the dead to fight on their behalf, make the white colonists leave, and bring peace, prosperity, and unity to Indian peoples throughout the region” (reference Wikipedia). The government had heard about a certain kind of shirt the dancers were that repelled bullets. This is the ghost shirt the Chief wears in this painting. Although Wovoka preached pacifism, his presence was enough to alarm the government, and they thought he was going to flee with the dancers. Sitting Bull was arrested at his home and refused to comply. A member of the tribe, Catch-the-Bear, shot the arresting officer James McLaughlin, who reacted by shooting the Chief for dead.

The painting is split in half – water flows behind Sitting Bull’s right shoulder, signifying the waters that would be affected by DAPL. Black oil flows behind his left. The black snake figure is cut into pieces, common in iconography for the current Standing Rock #NODAPL protest movement. The hawk totem represents messages delivered from the spirit world to the now. The hand-prints are mine – and I felt an overwhelming urge to place my hand-prints on this painting, not knowing what they represented. Research indicates the hand-print means successful hand-to-hand combat. For me, they represent a personal urge to get my hands quite literally into making things that inspire others to be free.

PLEASE SHARE. I love this painting but it really doesn’t belong to me. It can’t just be sit in my house or just be sold for sole profit. It needs to get out in the world and help someone!!