The artist lives on one hundred acres in an incredibly remote and austere section of the Pine Ridge Reservation on top of Cuny Table at the edge of the Badlands in South Dakota. It is the land of his ancestors; a landscape of canyons and vast open spaces. It’s a peaceful place but harsh, where the relentless sun is cooled only by a few fluttering cottonwoods in the summer and where windswept snow drifts and sculpts its own art in the winter. It is a land of amazing sunrises and sunsets.
It is here that Blaze has created a sanctuary of art where a seemingly endless maze of mosaic floors lead through a jaw-dropping art gallery and not a surface seems untouched by the artist’s hand. With sustainably-sourced windows and doors, architectural pieces throughout, even a bathroom sink liked with glass pebbles, a granite mosaic that extends to an outside wall … and art, all the art. The compound – there is really no other word for it – is also a fully-equipped art center, with studios for ceramics, metalsmithing, painting and two-dimensional design, and Blaze welcomes K-12 students for workshops as part of his Artist in Schools role, as well as adults for individual art instruction.
Blaze has served as an Artist in Schools for the South Dakota Arts Council since 1999 and hopes to be a model of expertise and an inspiration to students interested in developing a working knowledge of various artistic mediums.
I travel to schools all over the state, although I am partial to working with kids on the rez, as it brings me full circle with my life and heritage. I was taught the concepts and techniques of art by a generation before me, and I will pass that knowledge on to a generation after me.
While enthusiastic about teaching, Blaze remains truly enamored by metal, and has continued working with bronze for over twenty years.
Art is a passion, but making it into a business has involved going all over the country for major exhibitions. A lot of my success revolves around winning awards. Winning awards opens markets, and I always encourage young artists to enter shows, especially shows with competitions. Competition inspires me do my best work and each one brings me back to square one in the creative process. But attending shows is also about cultural diversity and, for me, sharing the essence of what the Lakota tribe is, on a cultural level.
It also makes me think of the pride my Oglala ancestors would feel counting coup. It makes me feel like a modern-day warrior.
And if Blaze is a warrior, he has definitely brought back his share of successes in battle, receiving dozens of national awards over his four-decade-plus career. Accolades include Artist Fellowships at the Smithsonian, the Heard Museum in Phoenix, and the Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis, a book Heartdreams and Legends published in 2000, several prestigious Best of Division and First Place Awards, and many others. Blaze has traveled internationally as well, participating in exhibitions in Japan, Germany and Australia. His work is represented in numerous public and private collections.
Seven Fires Art is deeply honored to list for sale the complete current catalog of works in bronze by nationally recognized Oglala Lakota artist Randall Blaze.
Photo credit LakotaFunds.org