Grantee:  Frank Big Bear
Native Citizenship:  Ojibwe
Location: Duluth, Minn.
Award:  2015 National Artist Fellowship
Discipline:  Visual Arts
Web Site:

Frank Big Bear’s personal change in life—retiring and moving from urban sprawl to rural lake view serenity—has influenced his shift in visual medium from drawing to collage and painting. “This has been a time of great expansion,” says Big Bear as retirement gives him the time to devote exclusively to creating and experimenting with his art.

Big Bear’s recent work in collage and painting has been well received by critics, curators and patrons. For some viewers however, the collages may seem too busy, over-powering, or a miss-mash of themes. Yet other viewers say the portrayals may be hilarious and perhaps a little egotistical in which they appreciate a sort of mania resident in the art. The work, however viewed, show a completely different creative side to Big Bear.

As for himself, Big Bear says that he likes to capture the kinetic energy of his subjects, and not necessarily a realistic image. He uses the plains powwow dancer and rider on a horse as a common theme in his work. Whatever image he captures, whether it be in painting, collage or drawing, Big Bear is able to intrigue viewers with multiple angles of perceptions in each piece of art. The 2015 National Artist Fellowship is recognition to Frank Big Bear’s talent and provides additional support to his future artistic endeavors.

I create art because I have a great need to exercise (exorcise?) my emotions. Art pacifies me; it makes everything in the world better . . . . I also create art for posterity
~ Frank Big Bear

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