Grid of stylized paintings of horses, six across and five tall. Each horse painting is mounted on a different marbled paper.
Wendy Red Star (Apsáalooke (Crow)), Bi’ nneete (No Water), 2021, Acrylic, graphite, kitakata paper, marble paper. Marion Stratton Gould Fund, 2021.12

Wendy Red Star’s Bi’ nneete (No Water), an installation of thirty original drawings in the Memorial Art Gallery’s permanent collection, will be featured in the museum’s introductory Forman Gallery from April 27 to December 1, 2024.

Red Star (Apsáalooke [Crow], born 1981), who lives and works in Portland, Oregon, grew up on her family’s ranch on the Crow Reservation in Montana, where she became a skilled rider and trainer. In Northern Plains Native histories and cultures, horses were essential for hunting, and Plains warriors measured status in the capture of horses from competing tribes. This feat, traditionally the domain of young men, required unflinching courage and a willingness to risk death. Red Star’s eighteenth-century ancestor, Green Skin, was an exceptional horse-getter.

With this project, the artist imagines she and Green Skin went on a raid together, capturing the horses corralled in Bi’ nneete (No Water). Red Star claims her place as a horse-getter in the continuing tradition of Apsáalooke warriors and artists.

Red Star sketched each horse from nineteenth-century drawings made by Indigenous artists of the Great Plains, found in museums and archives across the United States. In doing so, she has also freed the horses from long captivity and obscurity in institutions, giving each horse its own name and personality. The names written on each drawing, like “Black House Woman,” “Sings in the Garden,” and “Her Medicine is Medicine,” were taken from a 1907 map identifying the individuals and heads of families who received allotments of land on the Crow Reservation.

Red Star’s installation at MAG will include two examples of historical ledger drawings in the museum’s permanent collection.* Wendy Red Star (born 1981) is a visual artist who lives and works in Portland, Oregon. She was raised on the Apsáalooke (Crow) reservation in Montana, where she was immersed in Crow culture and art. Today, Red Star explores her cultural heritage and the role of Native women through a variety of media, including photography, sculpture, video, fiber arts, and performance.

*Update, as of April 23, 2024: The two historical ledger drawings are currently off-view as they are under review for the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.