Born in 1940 on the Flathead Reservation in Montana to Flathead Salish, French-Cree, and Shoshone parents, Quick-to-See Smith became an artist while in her 30s and was earning a living as a painter before she completed her master of fine arts degree at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. By the mid-1970s, she had founded artists groups, curated exhibitions, and organized grassroots protests to express concern for the land and its Native people. She has developed a distinctive modernist style over the past 35 years, in a variety of techniques, Quick-to-See Smith has received international critical acclaim through more than 75 solo exhibitions and numerous international shows.
In the early 1980s Quick-to-See Smith began to create paintings that address the complexities of Native American identity, both on the personal level and as a communal experience. Since 1990, many of her works have drawn attention to specific issues affecting this community, including preservation of the environment, racial and gender stereotyping, and problems of alcoholism.
Smith's politically-loaded subject matter ranges from cowboys and Indians to McDonald's and consumerism, reservation life, and war.According to Quick-to-See Smith, "Everything in America is for sale including land, water, air and elections" That's why she includes money signs in her paintings as did Andy Warhol, but she adds other iconic forms such as ancient petroglyphs in her works to reflect both Western and Native cultures.
Twig Johnson, Curator of Native American Art, will coordinate the MAM presentation of the show. Johnson is also inserting selected works by Smith in some of the Museum's Permanent Collection Galleries which will provide visitors with opportunities to consider contemporary Native American creativity, with early Native American easel painting of the 1930s, and 18th and 19th century American portraits, and Native American art and ethnographic objects. Ms. Johnson proudly talks about Smith's work, "we are thrilled to be hosting such an important exhibition. Jaune Quick-to-See Smith's work reflects MAM's mission... her work always stimulates, teaches, and inspires." The Museum will display Smith's Tribal Map, 2001 #2 in its gallery of 18th and 19th century art, alongside portraits by Gilbert Stuart and John Singleton Copley. Smith's map of the United States includes names of Native American tribes in their "home" states, many which are not federally recognized, or are extinct as a result of European contact. This large work (80 x 120 inches) will provide a unique opportunity for visitors to consider the role of U.S. policies on Native American history.