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Print - What is an American?
  • What is an American?
    Smith, Jaune Quick-to-See, born 1940
  • Enlarge image

What is an American?

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    USA (made)

  • Date:

    2003 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Smith, Jaune Quick-to-See, born 1940 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Lithograph on six sheets of Japanese Tableau paper pasted together, with chine collé, collage, hand painting and grommets

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased through the Julie and Robert Breckman Print Fund

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Native American artist Jaune Quick-to-see Smith is of mixed Salish, French, Cree and Shoshone descent. What is An American? takes the form of a parfleche (literally ‘parry arrow’). This traditional Native American ‘carry-all’ is made from buffalo hide soaked in lye, dried, decoratively painted, then folded and tied. It also, symbolically, carries messages about origins, history and identity.

In this print Smith has brought together symbols of white America with those of Native Americans, alluding to the mixing of these two very different cultures. Made in the wake of the September 11 attacks on the USA, the work questions the patriotism exhibited by many Americans at this time. Claiming the right not to be violated by invaders and aggressors, they had apparently forgotten past violations of Native America.

Physical description

Large sheet made of 6 smaller sheets pasted together, printed over with an image of a striding figure in profile in traditional Native American dress, but cut off at neck and ankles. One hand, visible at the centre of the image has tatooed images of saints on the fingers and hand applied red, blue and white paint spurts from her palm. Surrounding this figure are collaged-on elements of repeat image buffaloes ( reproduced from a US postage stamp and other images which suggest American culture, such as Perrier water, Bingo, Mickey Mouse, a comic image ( possibly a reproduction of a Roy Lichtenstein) Barbie dolls but also one or two references to Native American culture in images of herbs and moths. The sheet has been folded and the fold lines are visible. At the top are grommets which provide holes for suspending the sheet

Place of Origin

USA (made)


2003 (made)


Smith, Jaune Quick-to-See, born 1940 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Lithograph on six sheets of Japanese Tableau paper pasted together, with chine collé, collage, hand painting and grommets

Marks and inscriptions

'JQTS [not clearly legible] Smith. / 12/20'
Signature; edition number


Height: 175 cm printed to edge of sheet, Width: 101.6 cm printed to edge of sheet

Descriptive line

What is an American? (2003) by Jaune-Quick-to-see Smith. Printed image of a Native American figure, surrounded by symbols of American culture


Printing ink; Japanese paper; Paper


Lithography; Collage

Subjects depicted

Racial politics; Native Americans; Parflêche; Consumerism; History; Identity; Race; Martyrdom


Christianity; Prints

Production Type

Limited edition


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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