Del Curfman

Crow Tribe of Montana

GRANTEE:  Del Curfman
NATIVE HERITAGE:  Crow Tribe of Montana
AWARD:  2021 LIFT – Early Career Support for Native Artists
DISCIPLINE:  Visual Arts
SOCIAL MEDIA:  Instagram, Facebook

Del Curfman grew up in the divides between his Apsáalooke (Crow Tribe of Montana) heritage and the greater Western/Montanan/Non-Native culture, forever influencing him and his artwork. Curfman is now based in Santa Fe, New Mexico where he concentrates on creating socially-aware, community-engaged work. A graduate and alumni of the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA), his work serves as a reminder that American Indian culture and traditions have not faded into obscurity.

Curfman’s paintings celebrate the beautiful regalia, dance, song, and culture that demonstrate living, vibrant communities. His paintings utilize bold heavy, impasto palette-knife backgrounds and vibrant colors to elicit a sense of movement. The paintings appear like a long-exposure photograph — color bleeds through the figure into the background, perpetuating a feeling of dynamism that conveys that Apsáalooke and Indigenous peoples are moving into the future. Through time, space, and movement, his paintings transgress the boundaries and limits of American Indian stereotypes, acting as a conduit for cross-cultural dialogue.


Curfman’s LIFT project, Decolonizing Urban Identities, will be an expansive series of paintings. As part of his research for the work, he will organize multiple photoshoots that will serve as source material. The series will explore questions regarding the experiences of Indigenous people, how they find themselves in metropolitan spaces, and the subsequent negative urban Indian stereotypes. The process and work will be shared in an online video-blog style format. This multidisciplinary, multisensory project will document the creative process from concept to production. Audiences will have access to each subject’s interview, photoshoot, updates on painting techniques and progress, and the finished artwork.


All too often Native communities are misrepresented and misunderstood. My work as a contemporary American Indian artist aims to share Indigenous stories and our authentic realities.

—Del Curfman (Crow Tribe of Montana)

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