Danielle SeeWalker in her studio in front of a painting on an easel and photos and paintings on the wall

Artist Danielle SeeWalker's Inspirations

Danielle SeeWalker is Hunkpapa Lakota from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota, where she was born and raised. She is an artist, writer, activist, and “boymom” of two, based in Denver, Colorado. She likes to experiment and use mixed media within her artwork while incorporating traditional Native American materials, scenes, and messaging. Her artwork pays homage to her identity as a Native woman and to her passion to redirect the narrative to an accurate and insightful representation of contemporary Native America while not losing sight of the history of her ancestors.

Alongside her passion for creating visual art, Danielle is dedicated to staying connected and involved in her Native community. She currently serves as a commissioner for the Denver American Indian Commission and has also been working on a personal passion project since 2013 with her long-time friend called The Red Road Project. The focus of the work is to document, through words and photographs, what it means to be Native American in the 21st century by capturing inspiring and positive stories of people and communities within Indian Country. Follow her work and projects on Instagram: @seewalker_art and @theredroadproject.

In this blog she shares what she's working on lately and what inspires her.

a painting of a Native man with the words Article X painted around him; the painting is outside with sky and clouds above it and ground beneath it
Article X by Danielle SeeWalker. Courtesy and copyright of the artist.

Article X

My latest piece completed in June 2020. Inspired by an archive image and text from the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868. Article X from the Treaty reads, “In lieu of all sums of money or other annuities provided to be paid to the Indians herein named under any treaty or treaties heretofore made, the United States agrees to deliver at the agency house on the reservation herein named, on or before the first day of August of each year, for 30 years, the following articles to wit: For each male person over 14 years of age, a suit of good substantial woolen clothing, consisting of a coat, pantaloons, flannel shirt, hat, and a pair of homemade socks.”

Danielle SeeWalker in her studio in front of a painting on an easel and photos and paintings on the wall
Danielle SeeWalker. Photo courtesy of the artist.

My Studio

I currently work in a studio within my home. I love this because it allows me to work at any hour, any time, in the surroundings of all my comforts while my kiddos are nearby. If an idea sparks at 2 am, I can jump out of bed, and get right to work while it’s still fresh.

2 black and white photos of Native people and handwritten letters
Photo courtesy of the artist.

Inspiration – Archive Images

I am ever inspired by old handwritten letters, journals, and archive images, especially those of my people (Lakota and other Indigenous Plains people). I could spend hours sifting through old images and studying their clothing, jewelry, poses, expressions, and imagining what it was like for my ancestors during the time of western expansion and early colonization.

Danielle SeeWalker outside on the prairie standing next to her painting of Sitting Bull
Photo courtesy of the artist.

The Prairie

Something that always keeps me motivated and inspired is reconnecting with the prairie. I am a girl from the prairie, growing up in North Dakota. I am familiar with the flowers, the grasses, the songbirds, and sounds of the prairie.

a stack of books next to a gramophone
Photo courtesy of the artist.

Essentials: Books and Music

I love reading biographies, memoirs, and historical fiction about Native American people. Some of my favorite books are shown here next to my gramophone. Music while I work is also an essential and sets the vibe.

pastels, paint supplies, and black and white photo of an Indigenous woman on a table with other art supplies
Photo courtesy of the artist.

Tools and Inspiration - color and multimedia – Color combinations are so inspiring and important to me. I might not be digging a certain color as a stand-alone, but when I mix it with a palette of other colors, it suddenly becomes magic! I also love to mix media and play around with different textures and materials. Old book pages often set the canvas for my work or make a great sketchbook to carry around with me.

Erin Cousins is associate manager of creative and public engagement in the department of learning and engagement at the Denver Art Museum. One of her favorite exhibitions that has been on view here is Joan Miró: Instinct & Imagination.

Read more on: Colorado artists