Exposition Art Blog: Truman Tennis Lowe

Truman Tennis Lowe


 Truman Lowe, or Wakajahukga in Ho-Chunk, (American, Ho-Chunk, 1944–2019) is considered one of the foremost Native American artists of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Lowe was the youngest of six children and was raised in the Winnebago Indian Mission east of Black River Falls in west-central Wisconsin. He grew up alongside the Black River in the geographical and cultural homeland of the Ho-Ho-Chunk is one of twelve First Nations in the state of
Wisconsin and one of eleven tribes whose lands were forcibly ceded to the United States through
treaties in the nineteenth century.2 The origin stories of the Ho-Chunk Nation place these indigenous
people in the geographical area west of Lake Michigan, which became the Wisconsin Territory in 1836
and subsequently joined the Union as the thirtieth state in 1848.
Lowe's early work was inspired heavily by the education he was receiving. Paintings showing exercises in abstraction and geometric patterns in the style of Frank Stella are seen in paintings like Suzy (1968) and color theory works such as Yellow Over Green and Yellow Over Red (1969), the latter two which have since been destroyed. Working in clay, Lowe created egg-shaped sculptures that sat on coiled stands, Collection of Eggs and Unmatched Halves (c. 1968), giving a fantasy yet comic feel to his early experiments in art.
Sculpture classes taught him about the power of the line in artworks and its placement in nature. Lowe studied the works of Brâncuși, where he familiarized himself with geometry in sculpture, and Henry Moore's works regarding scale in sculpture.And with the popularity of plastic in the 1960s Lowe expanded his mediums to complete 3-D works including a life-size toaster of sheet plastic made from a sandwich sealer, complete with pieces of toast in the slot, recalling the soft sculpture works of Claes Oldenburg at the time.
It knowledge of and reverence for natural materials that instilled in Lowe his family’s and his community’s connection to the environment. The ethic of sustainable use of natural resources
was impressed upon him early on and he made judicious use and reuse of all the natural materials that
he collected throughout his career.


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