Celebrated artist and Professor Emeritus Kay WalkingStick, who taught undergraduate and graduate fine arts students at Cornell from 1988 to 2005, was recently elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Born in 1935 in Syracuse, WalkingStick is an internationally known Cherokee artist whose work explores the metaphorical significance of the American landscape, and her identity as an artist and Native American.
Already an established artist when she first taught at Cornell from 1988-90, WalkingStick returned to the university in 1992 as a full professor in the College of Architecture, Art and Planning. She taught painting and drawing in the Department of Art, and retired in 2005 to paint full time.
She has exhibited around the world with more than 30 solo shows in the United States and Europe, and her work is in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City; the Museum of Canada in Ottawa; the Cherokee Heritage Foundation in Oklahoma; the Israel Museum in Jerusalem; and the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell.
The solo exhibition “Kay WalkingStick: An American Artist,” on display from November 2015 to September 2016 at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, was her first major career retrospective and subsequently traveled through 2018 to museum venues across the country.
The exhibition chronicled WalkingStick’s artistic journey from 1970 to 2015 and featured more than 75 paintings, drawings, sculptures and diptychs from her own collection and private lenders. The retrospective also featured a selection of notebooks with sketches from her travels, and from teaching and lecturing assignments in the American Southwest and Italy.
She received her B.F.A. from Arcadia University in 1959 and her M.F.A. from the Pratt Institute in New York City in 1975.
She is a fellow of the National Academy of Design; her honors also include the 2018 Murray Reich Distinguished Artist Award from the New York Foundation for the Arts; the 1995 Joan Mitchell Foundation Award in Painting; and the 1996 National Honor Award for Achievement in the Arts from the Women’s Caucus for Art in Boston.
WalkingStick’s work is included in H.R. Janson’s “History of Art,” fifth and sixth editions (1995–97). Her essays have appeared in exhibition catalogs including for the Heard Museum in Phoenix and the Montclair Museum in New Jersey, and in “20th Century Native American Art: Essays on History and Criticism” (1998).
WalkingStick is among 276 new fellows elected to AAAS. The fellowships honor individual achievements in academia, the arts, business, government and public affairs.
Newly elected fellows include singer and activist Joan Baez, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, human health anthropologist Clark Larsen, filmmaker Richard Linklater, author Ann Patchett and Victor Nee, the Frank and Rosa Rhodes Professor of Economic Sociology in the College of Arts and Sciences.