Ancient Voices

A Museum to honor the least known people in North America, the Original Tribal Women

JoAnne Bird
Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota, 1945 -
Painter, sculpter, musician

joanne bird

JoAnne Bird is a talented and popular Native American painter with a passion for her artistic creations who had been painting realist, but now paints mostly impressionistic pieces since 1986. Joanne Bird discovered her present artistic style when she decided to give up painting. With disgust in her work, she threw some paint at her canvas with a brush. She was astounded at what she saw. She has since assumed total control over this accidental technique and developed tools for throwing paint. When she approaches a blank canvas, she does not have an image in mind. She feels her images come from her subconscious, her work has evolved to where her style is truly unique and has earned her success and popularity.

JoAnne is a member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota Sioux, and her paintings reflect the experiences she has had as a contemporary Native American.  Indeed, JoAnne is more than just a painter.  She also sculpts, and is a musician.  She and her husband Gordon and their children, Jackie, Sherry and Lori, and grand-children are all musicians and have played in the group 'Featherstone', and now 'BIRD!' since the children were very young. She and her family live in South Dakota.

joanne bird

JoAnne received formal art training from three institutions across the country – Santa Fe Institute of Arts, Macalaster College and Dakota State University. After receiving her education, she worked as a commercial artist.

She draws insights from her Native American culture. JoAnne feels she is creating universal images - sometimes traditional, sometimes abstract. She likes to create reactive images. It is a pleasure to create a piece with so many different elements living within one canvas. Many times, those viewing her work find interpretations entirely different from her own, and that is part of their beauty. The topics of her painting include such sacred rituals as the Sundance, and traditional figures from Native American culture such as White Buffalo Calf Woman. 

Well-known for the sculptures she continues to create upon commission, she delights in the freedom and joy of her impressionistic style, as opposed to the tightness and discipline required in her sculptures. One of her sculptures is shown below.
Ish Tak Ha Ba Statue
Ish Tak Ha Ba Statue - Sculpted by JoAnne Bird, this statue of Chief Sleepy Eye was dedicated in Wooldrik Park in 1994.

JoAnne's Native American paintings not only represent various aspects of the Native American culture, they also usually contain stunning mixes of paint colors to present an almost ethereal presence.  Indeed, these paintings are the perfect compliment to any home. Joanne's paintings depict her Native American heritage - many spiritual in nature and dating back to early Native American history or legend. She feels that her paintings bring out the old in a modern way

spirit of the plains painting
Spirit of the Plains

Those who take an interest in JoAnne’s work will be interested to know that in addition to traditional paintings, JoAnne offers all-occasion cards and art prints. 

whirlwind riders painting
Whirlwind Riders

JoAnne Bird has been inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame and her paintings are found in museums and private collections throughout the world. She also earned the Artist of the Year award in 1992
(I have a few of JoAnne's prints, including the two above, I feel honoured that JoAnne herself gave them to me. I have known her and her family since 1990, they are great people, very friendly to everyone. - G)  

Another of JoAnne's sculptures

Honor sculpture

JoAnne Bird

The forms of "Honor" are derived from nature represting the Dakota Nations of the Northern Plains. The artist strived to portray the great culture(s) of the Indian people with honor, respect, and pride.

Artwork photos by Paul Schiller

joanne bird

copyright of all the above photos are JoAnne Bird's

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Museum Research & Curator Gloria Hazell
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©August, 2006