Star Wallowing Bull is becoming a well-known artist because of his vibrant and detailed Prismacolor pencil drawings. He incorporates historical events, popular culture icons, and personal events into his extremely elaborate and unique artwork.
Black Elk’s Little Sandman is a perfect example of his visually compelling mix of subjects. At first glance, the piece seems symmetrical, with two totem pole-looking borders on either side and a bright circle in the middle, with a “traditional” Indian in the center of it. The drawing is filled many different motifs, including Native Americans, mainstream “American” symbols, pop culture allusions, and animals.
Throughout the drawing Star portrays Native Americans and objects that are often associated with them. In the center, a “typical” Indian holds what looks to be a pipe, and is drawn in a “traditional” fashion. There are two other woman in the picture who are drawn in a similar fashion. There are many symbols relating to Star’s culture throughout the drawing as well, as can be seen by the many feathers, totem poles, and icons of nature.
Star Wallowing Bull also included many standard American symbols in his drawing. There are images of the Statue of Liberty, the American Eagle, the American Flag, and the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. Also, a figure that appears in many of Star’s pieces is the tiny man below the Indian man in the center, looking bruised and confused, with a question mark over his head. It could be a self-portrait of Star as a baby.
Several popular culture icons are found throughout the drawing, however many of them have been altered to seem more “Indian.” The most striking example of this is an image of Yoda in full traditional Native American dress. Star also included a parody of Edvard Munch’s Screaming Man, but wearing traditional dress as well. Part of Darth Maul’s face is included in the drawing, however it hardly looks out of place with the other Indian patterns throughout the piece. This is also true for the two drama masks he portrays. Many of the totem poles look like Transformers, another alteration of common pop icons.
Star included several animals in his drawing. One of the most striking is the monkey in the lower left hand side. There are also images of an alligator, a dinosaur, mean-looking fish, a gecko, and bats. Butterflies and prehistoric-looking bugs are found throughout the drawing. It seems Star is using these animals instead of “traditional” American Indian animals like the buffalo, deer, or birds. Star uses many more images in his art that make it quite the eclectic statement of his view of the 21 st century.
Plains Art Museum purchased this piece in 2003.
When I was just a year old my father set me in his lap, put a pencil in my hand and started me drawing. It is his art that has had the greatest influence on me.
-Star Wallowing Bull
One of the Midwest’s newest artists, Star Wallowing Bull has gained recognition for his intricate and elaborate colored pencil drawings.
Star Wallowing Bull was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1973. Being of Ojibwa and Arapaho decent, he spent most of his childhood on the south side of Minneapolis, until he dropped out of school when he was 17. He turned to drinking as a method to deal with personal problems, but he was able to overcome his abuse of alcohol and continues to create art that has been well received throughout the Midwest. Star was commissioned along with his father, Frank Big Bear, Jr., to create a 26-foot long mural for the atrium in Plains Art Museum in 2003. He was recently invited to be a guest artist at the prestigious Tamarind School for printmaking in Santa Fe.
Star Wallowing Bull is known for his vibrant Prismacolor pencil drawings. While his art appears similar to that of his father, Frank Big Bear, Jr., in fact, it is quite different. Star’s work is more affected by the media and incorporates specific historical events. He also uses many autobiographical references so his art becomes a diary of his personal evolution.
Star Wallowing Bull was awarded the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian Native Artist Fellowship in 2001 and was given the Juror Award in 2002 from Plains Art Museum. He has also been published in several magazines and newspapers in the Twin Cities.
Star Wallowing Bull’s art has been exhibited at the Carl Gorman Museum at the University of California, the Texas Women’s University, the La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe, Plains Art Museum in Fargo/Moorhead, the Two Rivers Gallery at the Minneapolis American Indian Center, the Wesiman Art Museum, and the Bockley Gallery, all in Minneapolis.
Star Wallowing Bull, Black Elk’s Little Sandman, 2002, Prismacolor pencils on paper, 36 x 50″