Native Artist’s Work Takes Center Stage in New Blanket Series by Rumpl
Jordan Ann Craig wants to use her platform for much more than raising awareness about fellow Native artists.
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For as long as she can remember, Northern Cheyenne artist and Bay Area native Jordan Ann Craig has been devoted to honing her craft. So much so that, when asked when she first realized she had a gift for making art, she had to refer the question to her mother.
“Very young,” her mother told her.
“My sisters and I have always made art,” Craig told Sunset, adding that she spent this past summer working alongside her sister Bailey in the studio, a time the young artist described simply as “magical.”
That lifetime endeavor bore fruit in April 2019, when, while working as an artist-in-residence at the Institute of American Indian Arts, Craig’s art caught the eye of renowned camping blanket company, Rumpl.
The staff at Rumpl were so impressed with her work that they asked Jordan to partner with their Rumpl Artist Division, or RAD, to produce a series of Native American art-inspired blankets.
The products resulting from the partnership not only highlight Craig’s passion for expression and celebration of Cheyenne design, but provide “an abstracted record of personal narratives and experiences” that are the direct “result of years of living, practice, studying, and cultivating,” Jordan said.
Her mother’s confirmation of a lifetime of artistic inclination aside, it wasn’t until Jordan began studying Indigenous design a few years ago that she first experienced a transformation of her creative thought process.
As a result, it’s not just shining a light on fellow Native artists that Craig hopes to use her platform for.
Part of the experience of living as a member of Jordan’s cultural community includes the oft-neglected, ever-present issue of rampant violence against Native women.
This critical topic, Jordan said, must occupy discussions in a way that reflects the alarming rate at which this violence occurs.
“People need to know that our Native women are experiencing violence and murder at extremely high rates,” she said. “More than four out of five Native American and Alaska Native women have experienced violence in their lifetime, and one in two have experienced sexual violence.
“Our world is failing our Indigenous women.”
Providing more Native women with platforms like the one Jordan has been afforded will certainly help advance that discussion, but even from an art standpoint obstacles remain.
“Native art is incredibly diverse, beautiful, and nuanced,” Craig said, but “representation in the art world, academia, retail, and popular culture has been disappointing to say the least. Our society must work harder to shine a light on Indigenous peoples and stop appropriating Native culture.”
The support Jordan and other artists are receiving through programs like RAD, which lists its mission as one of sharing the work of “accomplished and upcoming artists who use diverse mediums to inspire creativity in impassioned communities around the world,” is a significant step in the right direction, she says.
Rumpl is hoping to continue taking steps to showcase the talent of artists like Jordan by donating a portion of sales from each blanket to the First Peoples Fund, an organization committed to lifting up Indigenous artists.
For more information on Jordan’s work and the initiatives taken by the Rumpl Artist Division, watch the video above and visit the First Peoples Fund.
To learn more about the critical discussion on ending violence against Native women, visit the Indian Law Resource Center and see what steps are being taken as part of the Safe Women, Strong Nations initiative.
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