Neal Ambrose-Smith, descendent of the Flathead Salish tribe of Montana, is a contemporary Native American painter, sculptor, printmaker, and educator. He has been teaching non toxic printmaking nationally for several years. His work is included in the collections of many national and international museums and institutions, including the New York Public Library, the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, Galerie D’Art Contemporain in Chamalières, France, and Hongik University in Seoul, Korea. He received his BA from the University of Northern Colorado and MFA from the University of New Mexico.
Growing up in an art making household I lived in a fantasy world, a strange planet made up of cowboys and Indians where Star Wars and Star Trek mingled. My mother, an artist, supplied paper, string, tape, markers and magazines. Once I painted myself with chocolate pudding. That was my early transition into being a painter. In college I studied Dada poets and painters. Their combined images and words spilled out with contradictions, confusions, provocations in their drawings and performances. As a musician I was drawn to the rhythm of words.
I studied art and came to see that Chinese, Japanese, Egyptians, Mayans and Aztecs all combined written forms with images before Dadaists. More recently Pop Art artists such as Andy Warhol and later Jean Michel Basquiat infused language into their images as well. On the surface nonsensical, Basquiat’s rap does reveal racial politics, angst and pop culture. I include this with the rabid consumerism of our time. Not only do the words create rhythms and sounds in my head, but they offer intonations akin to chanting. This is The Zone that most artists go which offers a place of intense concentration when working. My artwork becomes my progeny. They lead lives of their own once they leave my studio. If left to their own devices in an exhibit or in storage, They have conversations of their own.