Museum of Contemporary Native Arts

Vibrance, Abstracts and Satire in Artist Gerald Cournoyer’s Vision Quest at Lloyd Kiva New Gallery

Santa Fe, NM | Jun 7, 2012 –

Although he started as a Ledger and portrait artist, Gerald Cournoyer has always used symbolism in his expression, in addition to drawing from his ancestry.

“My paintings reflect cosmology of the Lakota Sioux people,” said Cournoyer, an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe of Pine Ridge, SD. “The symbolism of the geometric shape, color usage and repetitive motif reflects a verse in song; the more you sing, the closer you are with the Great Spirit.”

Initially inspired by Fritz Scholder, Allan Houser, T.C. Cannon, and other early Native American artists who shaped the contemporary Native art movement, Cournoyer eventually expanded into vibrant abstract watercolors and acrylics. This led to patterns of Lakota quillwork on canvas, and is part of his new exhibition, Vision Quest, May 26-August 6 at the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (MoCNA)’s Lloyd Kiva New Gallery.

With Cournoyer’s Vision Quest, are symbolism of geometric beadwork and repetitive motif, as well as images of raven interpreters or a series of Indian Drinking Coffee in satire.

“As I paint, I remember this ideology and continue to tell the stories of many lives through shapes, size, structure, scale, composition and colors in my paintings, he said. “The large non-figurative expanses of color and form offer the viewer an opportunity to explore the depth of stimulating color. The use of color in my paintings is similar to the traditional spirituality of family history.”

Geometric Symbolism IV

After growing up on the Yankton and Oglala reservations, Cournoyer enlisted in the Marine Corps for four years and then went on to earn an associate degree from the Institute of American Indian Arts, and a bachelor of Fine Arts and a Master of Art at the University of South Dakota before completing his M.F.A. from the University of Oklahoma. He is currently an assistant professor at Oglala Lakota College in Kyle, South Dakota. Seeing a need for a community arts program across the reservation, Cournoyer and his founded the OLC Artist Consortium, and have developed its first arts building in Kyle, SD.  

For more information about the artist, go to For more information about the MoCNA Lloyd Kiva New Gallery, go to


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Contact Information

Suzanne M. Willener, 505-428-5917 or