Richard D. York

Cherokee Nation Tribal Citizen

GRANTEE:  Richard D. York
NATIVE HERITAGE:  Cherokee Nation Tribal Citizen
LOCATION:  Portland, OR
AWARD:  2021 LIFT – Early Career Support for Native Artists
DISCIPLINE:  Visual Arts

Richard D. York was born in Utah and raised in various states in the Northwest. He worked primarily as a medical and public relations photographer for many years before receiving his MFA in Visual Studies from the Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA) Hallie Ford School of Graduate Studies in 2014. Richard has been married for sixteen years and is the father of three children. Initiating dialogue, connection, facilitating community, and honoring his ancestors are his primary motivations as an artist and a person. He believes art can be healing and through Cherokee traditional values, honors the sacredness of spirit in all fellow beings.

Growing up, York benefited from being exposed to and learning traditional arts and crafts from his uncle. Although his primary medium has been painting, in his current work he explores traditional art forms, making rawhide hand drums, rawhide and turtle shakers, flutes, and bows. It is his intent to interface and contrast traditional areas of making with his contemporary western academic training, investigating important questions regarding aesthetics, notions of beauty, and what is considered art and why.


For his LIFT project, York will develop a series of new paintings on rawhide-covered hoop drums and canvases and/or wood panels that relate to his connection and disconnection as a Cherokee artist and to his home and culture. He will alsomentor/facilitate local indigenous youth artists in making and showing their own artwork, offering to supply them materials and to teach them to create rawhide hoop drums. His primary goals are to encourage youth in the arts and to make visible the diversity and viability of indigenous people, culture and knowledge in the arts and the world. For the culmination of this project he will curate a group show coupled with online platforms featuring the work created by these youth artists and himself.


I don’t make art to entertain, I make my work to stimulate connection and mindfulness.

—Richard D. York (Cherokee Nation Tribal Citizen)

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