Kevin Pourier (Oglala Lakota), a 2014 Native Arts and Cultures Foundation (NACF) Regional Artist Fellow, has been carving Buffalo horn on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota for over 20 years. After 21 years of showing his work at the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA) Santa Fe Indian Market, his belt titled Winyan Wánakiksin won Best of Show in this year’s competition. Pourier recently spoke to the NACF about his career as an artist and winning this prestigious award.
Winyan Wánakiksin, meaning Women Defenders of Others, is a fitting name for Pourier’s award winning work of art. It is more than just a pretty piece, the belt encompasses the current political climate, the power of women, contemporary Native issues, and a shift in the Native art world that combines beauty with advocacy. For many months prior to the event, Pourier spent hours researching, interviewing, and collaborating with eight influential Native women to create the design. Each individual portrait panel took about two-weeks to complete. It was a labor of love for Pourier who poured all of his research into creating decorative portraits with purpose. In addition to the portraits each woman selected a design with personal meaning to be used in the background.