The Rumpl Artist Division (R.A.D.) is a collaborative program that showcases the work of accomplished and upcoming artists who use diverse mediums to inspire creativity in impassioned communities around the world. LEARN MORE >
Welcome back to the Rumpl Artist Division (R.A.D.) This season, we’re proud to feature the work of Jordan Ann Craig. Jordan is a Northern Cheyenne artist based in the Bay Area. Her work includes painting, prints, collages, textile prints, and artist books. Jordan’s work draws on Indigenous textiles, pottery, and landscapes. Jordan created two pieces of art for Rumpl this season. Woven Daydream is featured on The Original Puffy Blanket, Down Puffy Blanket and Everywhere Towel; Keep Me Warm is featured on The NanoLoft®
Diving right in, tell us who you are and how you got into art.
My name is Jordan Ann Craig. I’m Northern Cheyenne, and I was born and raised in Northern California. I make paintings, prints, designs, and fashion pieces, but recently I have been mostly focusing on large paintings. In my work, I study Northern Cheyenne and Cheyenne beadwork. I make the paintings by abstracting based on objects like moccasins, baby carriers, and other Indigenous objects. They are all colorful and rooted in story.
My parents were very creative, and I grew up in a creative household. My father can draw and build furniture, and my mother has always been very crafty with ceramics and collecting things, so we were lucky to have a supportive, artistic family. I was really lucky to take additional art classes and thrive in those environments. I ended up pursuing art in college, and I’ve been pursuing fine art ever since.
What/who are your most significant artistic influences?
A lot of my paintings right now are based on my family. I’ve got two younger sisters, so for example, there is a pink painting behind me titled “Stop Flirting With Me,” and it’s an ode to my sister. Every time she gets a compliment, she always says, “stop flirting with me,” and it’s so funny and endearing. She’ll say that to anyone: my mom, me, a stranger, so this painting is really about celebrating her humor, her beauty, and her ability to laugh at everything.
I get my ideas from my own experiences, time with my family, and seeing colors that I really like whenever I’m out and about. A lot of my paintings are quite abstract and pattern-based, but each of them is rooted in some sort of story. Just like “Stop Flirting With Me” is an ode to my sister. They are really about celebrating ourselves, our power, our passions, and our beauty. They’re all personal; they’re all linked to something.
How do you feel your Indigenous cultural background has influenced your art?
I make large abstract paintings and prints, so I like to study Indigenous design, whether that’s beadwork, basket weaving, textile designs, and I’ll make my own versions of those patterns. Sometimes I make really small prints (hand size). Other times I’ll make really large paintings, sometimes taller than myself and I’m 5’ 8”. The bigger the painting and the pattern are, the more you can really immerse yourself into the whole piece and feel part of the painting.
The dot paintings I make are more studying time-based work. I like to call them memory landscapes because they remind me of things like driving to the airport at 4 in the morning and taking in the valleys, mountains, and plateaus but not really looking at them. They are often meditative pieces, so I’m thinking about something or focusing on something when I make them. They’re made with q tips, and so each dot is made individually and covers the entire surface with the dots. I directly utilize my Northern Cheyenne background to find and research different objects and patterns to make paintings of. These paintings are mostly designed from beadwork, so from moccasins and baby carriers and other Indigenous objects that are part of my culture. I’m using those beads, those really tiny beads, and making simplified patterns based on those objects. My background is different because my mother was adopted, so this is like a return to our own culture.
How do you feel about how prevalent Native-inspired art is in fashion, design, and popular culture? Do you see a problem with that?
I know the appropriation of Native culture is an ongoing problem. Through my own work and my passion in the fashion business, I’m constantly fighting and trying to utilize my representation to actually put real Native work out there. Native-inspired work vs. actual Native work – there’s a huge difference. I think utilizing artists of Indigenous descent who have those cultural values; we should be supporting and uplifting those artists directly.
There are laws that protect Native American arts and crafts, and so we are automatically protected with what we put out there, but still, it doesn’t stop people from stealing. You can see people put out things on the runway, and then you’ll see a designer completely copy that a season later, and it’s just horrible. I am trying to combat that with my peers, with my work, and, hopefully, make some kind of change.
Do you feel it is important for brands to work directly with Native artists for those types of designs?
I definitely feel like brands should be working directly with Native artists to create patterns. If they want Native design, then they should reach out to Native artists. In my experience, more companies have been reaching out, and that says a lot about the companies. They might be trying to make amends, and I mean not every brand is perfect, they may have put out things that have been problematic. Now, people are learning, and they are learning from those mistakes, and now supporting artists who deserve the credit.
"A lot of my paintings are quite abstract and pattern-based, but each of them is rooted in some sort of story."
Tell us about the piece that you created for Rumpl.
My piece for Rumpl is a piece I originally designed for my sister. The piece is mostly monochromatic, bold, it’s got different Indigenous elements within the pattern and design, and it’s all through my own aesthetics as well.
Tell us about your relationship and work with First Peoples Fund?
Where would you like to take your art next?
I’ve been really lucky. My art has taken me many places already. I’ve done fellowships across Europe, and I’ve shown in London. If I could show more, I’d like to take my work back to Montana where my family is from and where the Northern Cheyenne Reservation is. I definitely see that in the upcoming years. If my art took me internationally, that’s great, but I also think the importance of my work being where it should be, would be the greatest gift. I see my work going wherever it can go, and what’s great about my work is that it can be applied to fashion, blankets, and many other things. That way, it can be collected by people that are not necessarily wanting a large painting.
I hope my work can inspire younger people, younger women, younger/older Native people, or whoever is seeing my work. I’ve been lucky to receive such positive feedback, and my work is being discussed in classrooms. It’s amazing to hear that my work is being reflected in teaching, and hopefully, in the future, seeing that I am pursuing this can inspire other young artists.
Learn more about Jordan’s work here.