HOCKADAY MUSEUM of ART
Gateway to Montana's Artistic Legacy
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One Was White -- Bronze Sculpture (8 x 10 x 18 in)
King Kuka (1947 - 2004)
Kingsley "King" Kuka, was born on the Blackfeet Reservation of Northestern Montana. Among the first class of artists to graduate from the Institute for Native American Art in Santa Fe, he influenced an entire younger generation of Native American artists.
Kuka grew up on his family's ranch in Birch Creek. But by high school, he left to attend the art institute where he sold his first painting. Kuka frequently switched mediums, painting in oils and most recently in pastels, sculpting and even making jewelry. His poetry was translated into various languages and published. He coined the term "Kuka-graph" -- prints on embossed paper that would create a ghostlike image, usually of an animal, in the background. As a teacher, Kuka encouraged other Indian artists to pursue their goals and develop their own styles. Proud of his Blackfeet heritage, Kuka completed a stained glass work at the Catholic Church in Browning.
Kuka's art was distinctive for its symbolism and had a strong sense of design and color, like other area artists, Kuka's work was better known outside the state. Though not as well-known, his poetry as captured the spirituality of his work. "I will send my heart with the eagle carried on winds of trust, to be blessed by the sun and baptized in rain beneath nature's rainbow altar." Although Kuka died at a young age, he was a prolific artist and left behind many works.