I’m Jennifer White: mother of six, wife, and art gallery owner. I have no formal art education, but I do have an incredible work ethic and always finish what I set out to do.
My professional art journey began six years ago. Since then, I have managed to build an incredible collector base and gain momentum for the Native Art scene.
At the time, the art scene for Natives was very limited, modern painting was limited, to say the least. At the very core of downtown, I was one of a small handful of modern Native painters. I just wasn’t ready to have our youth grow up in a city that didn’t regard Native Art as a necessity.
My grandmother was a quilter. My uncle taught the importance of dance, music, and the importance of having strong character. I was an Indian in my hometown and white Indian on the reservation. I felt displaced in my childhood. As time went on, I realized the rules of both societies no longer mattered to me. As an adult, I began to paint subject matter, gravitating toward my grandmother: the colors of her quilts, the golds and beautiful abstract quality of her shapes. It was amazing to see how good I was at painting. I love it.
So, I kept painting and when we moved back to Sioux Falls, SD, I was thrown headfirst into the artistic professional world. Gallery contracts, booth fees, awards, commissions. But, the further I dive into my career, the more sophisticated I must become. The more educated I have to be. I have learned that with all of this need for sophistication and education, the true beauty of my culture shines brighter. I am learning that as an artist, it is more important to be a student in life and less a teacher. And when you have all of the stories and perspectives of so many people, you have earned the right to speak and be heard. You have earned the experiences you paint. You have earned the right to be a leader in a community. All of these wonderful things come at the price of having to be the first one to listen and the last to speak.
I believe it is crucial – especially in these crazy times – to speak as loud as we can as Native people of this country. Our culture is more than what we have been told, our culture is more than what we expect from ourselves. We are going to continue to evolve and conquer our fears; I chose to do it through my art. I am proud to be a Native Painter. I am proud to be a woman gallery owner, and I will work very hard to do right by the people I love.
Pieces by J. White
Awards and Honors
- 2015 Sidewalk Art Festival “Best in Show”