Joe Feddersen’s printmaking and basketwork blends indigenous traditions with the present | Art & Culture | Spoken | The Pacific Northwest Inlander
Joe Feddersen works in multiple mediums Mixed media – printmaking, glass, basketwork – but above all he sees himself as a storyteller, he says. And that shows in his artwork, particularly the three works it contains indie folk.
For titles like Blue Chief at Elk Crossing and Red Star, the mixed media monoprints (a form of printmaking where the image can only be printed once) were printed and then spray paint and collage elements were added. Feddersen, who was born in Omak, also uses stencils to repeat certain images—abstract moose, a canoe, human figures, trees, geometric patterns—referring to the land he grew up on, as well as displays of modern influence mankind on the land high voltage pylons.
The result is artworks rich in symbolism, some more open, others more difficult to interpret. That, says Feddersen, is intentional.
“One thing about Native American stories is that there are multiple stories, there are multiple interpretations of stories,” says Feddersen, a member of the Okanagan and Arrow Lakes bands of the Colville Confederated Tribes.
“When you’re telling a legend or a Native American story, there’s no morality, you know, that sort of thing [there is] in European stories,” says Feddersen, whose paternal family is of German descent. “In a Native American story, it’s more like a horoscope; You read it and refer to it in your own experience for meaning.
Feddersen also has several baskets with him indie folk, which combine traditional wicker shapes and wicker materials with unconventional imagery, like top-down parking lot lines.
These abstract little images read like historical pictograms, he says indie folk Curator Melissa Feldman, who describes that Feddersen is one of the artists in the exhibition “who is interested in showing how traditional images don’t just belong in a historical setting or context”.
“I often think that if something is repeated in my work, then it’s about representing the world around me,” says Feddersen.
Sometimes his inspiration comes from a conversation or a news article. Vehicle tires with seductive names such as “Eagle” or “Open Country” inspired another basket series by Feddersen, which is not on display in the exhibition. Featuring the graphic patterns of SUV tire tracks, it reflects how the Western ethos is both romanticized and commercialized.
His imagery feels as natural as his interest in making things, says Feddersen, who loved art as a young man but didn’t get serious about it until his early 30s.
In 1983, Feddersen earned his BFA in printmaking from the University of Washington, followed a few years later by his MFA from the University of Wisconsin.
Feddersen now has works in the permanent collections of numerous cities and universities in the Northwest, as well as in such venerable institutions as the Smithsonian/National Museum of the American Indian and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
“Coming from a rural area, I didn’t really understand the art world,” says Feddersen. “I didn’t really know if you could do that His an artist.” ♦