Wendy Red Star

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Wendy Red Star

Born in 1954, Red Star grew up on the Navajo Reservation in Sawmill, Arizona. She was able to draw from an early age, preferring to fill her school notebooks with sketches of horses as opposed to boring workbook exercises. Her mother encouraged her artwork and aspirations. When she expressed interest in becoming an artist, her mother found her a place at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe, New Mexico to pursue art studies under master potter Bert Benally.

Red Star attended IAIA from 1973-1976 completing a BFA and then studied art history at the University of New Mexico where she earned a BA in 1978. She earned a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Arizona in 1982, which was awarded with a Fulbright Scholarship to visit England and the National Gallery in London.

After completing her MFA, Red Star began working at a commercial art studio in Douglas, Arizona until 1986. Some of her first commercial work included posterizing and metal work. At this time, she began studying traditional Navajo materials such as buckskin and plants with herbalists at the Institute for Traditional Medicine (ITM). Beginning in 1988, Red Star began teaching art to Native American students on reservations and later adjusted coursework to meet requirements for those seeking an education certificate. She became an instructor at ITM teaching Western painting techniques and sculpting using clay.

Wendy Red Star is a Navajo-Dena’ina artist and activist. Red Star has redefined museum practice to be more inclusive, welcoming and creative. She is the founder of Running Strong for American Indian Youth, an organization that supports Native youth and families. Red Star currently serves on the National Museum of the American Indian Board of Trustees and participates in annual meetings with museum curators to discuss new acquisitions policies, exhibitions, staffing matters and membership nominating committees. Red Star’s portfolio ranges from painting, sculpture and installation art to photography, video and performance art. Her works are shown nationally as well as internationally in countries including Canada, Mexico, Brazil and Germany.


How Wendy Red Star Decolonizes the Museum with Humor and Play. (2020). Retrieved 11 May 2022, from https://edgeeffects.net/wendy-red-star/