The Ruth and Seymour Landfield Atrium
Athena LaTocha (b. Anchorage, Alaska) is a Hunkpapa Lakota/Keweenaw Bay Ojibwe artist, currently living in New York. Buffalo Prairie (Slow Burn) is monumental ink wash drawing created by Athena LaTocha during her residency inside the Katherine Kilbourne Burgum Center for Creativity at Plains Art Museum May 2-June 4, 2019.
LaTocha used Sumi, walnut ink, a variety of powdered inks, water-soluble shellac, local earth and grass on paper and steel belted tire shreds.
Athena explored the natural landscapes at Buffalo River State Park in Minnesota, Sica Hollow and Nicolette Tower near Sisseton, South Dakota. Additionally, she often visited local industrial sites around West Fargo such as earth moving and reclamation sites, landfills, and the oil storage arrays—considering human consumption of Earth’s resources. She noted the stratification of color within the unique presence of the forest environment at Sica Hollow. The Nicolette map provided grounding of the local terrain in context with the Indigenous Nations.
Using the prairie as a metaphor for change, transformation, and renewal, LaTocha juxtaposes her experience of the prairie with that of local industrial sites—examining the complex relationships humans have with the world in which we live.
During her time in residence, LaTocha found herself reflecting on her ancestors who walked on these prairies, that there is alarmingly less than ten percent of natural prairie left in the Great Plains. She was struck by the deep root systems of the prairie grasses, the plants, and their relationships to the biosphere and of fire, nature’s cyclical system of life, death, and renewal.
Further, the near extinction of the buffalo and the not often talked about ‘the people’ who relied upon them to survive and sustain life. Even now the pattern persists with the alarming number of Missing and Murdered Indigenous People.
Athena LaTocha has been featured at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, CUE Art Foundation, Artists Space, New York State Museum, South Dakota Art Museum, and the International Gallery of Contemporary Art in Anchorage, Alaska. In 2017 she had a solo exhibition at the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in Santa Fe. In 2013 LaTocha was awarded the prestigious Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Residency. In 2016 she was a recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant. Most recently, she completed the 2018 Winter Workspace Program residency at Wave Hill in the Bronx, New York. LaTocha received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Stony Brook University, New York.