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Nadema Agard

Nadema Agard

Native American visual artist, poet, storyteller, museum professional and Indigenous Rights Activist
Nadema Agard
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro Native American visual artist, poet, storyteller, museum professional and Indigenous Rights Activist
Is Poet Artist Activist Visual artist Storyteller
From United States of America
Type Arts Activism Creativity Film, TV, Stage & Radio Literature
Gender female
Birth 10 September 1948
Age 72 years
Star sign VirgoVirgo
The details


Nadema Agard (born September 10, 1948) is a Native American visual artist, educator, illustrator, poet, storyteller, museum professional and Indigenous Rights Activist from the Lakota and Cherokee Nations. Agard also works as a Repatriation and Multicultural/Native American arts and cultures consultant. Additionally, Agard owns and directs an art production and consulting enterprise, Red Earth Studio.

Agard's art is primarily mixed media/visual arts, ranging from canvas paintings, sketches, and published works and her intent is to show the relations of femininity and masculinity in various mixed medias. Her goal is also to represent the merging of cultures races, religions, and traditions together, as well as to serve as a form of visual worship.

Early and personal life

Agard was born and raised in New York, where she has lived most of her life. Her mother is of eastern Cherokee nations and her father comes from the Lakota and Powhatan nations. Agard was exposed to art at a very young age, as her father was a portrait artist and muralist. She has credited this constant exposure to art as an early inspiration for her choice to create art herself. Agard also has immediate family that resides in both New York and the Pamunkey-Powhatan Reservation in the Dakotas.

She had expressed an intent to find her family on reservations and has returned to her ancestral homeland in Virginia, where much of the Powhatan people still reside. She also spent time living in the Carolinas and later the Dakotas, with the Lakota Nation she also came from. It was here where she was given her Indian name through ceremony. Her Indian name “Winyan Luta” can be closely translated to “Red Woman” in English, but more accurately translated in Latin as “Sacred Red Woman.”

In the early 2000s, Agard was diagnosed with breast cancer but she later beat it. She had to take a step back from making art until creating "Moon Breast Mother."

She currently lives in her hometown of New York.


In June 1970, Agard earned a Bachelor's of Science in Art Education from New York University. Three years later, she continued her education in New York and completed a master's program, earning a Master's of Art in Art in Education at Columbia University, Teacher’s College in December of 1973. Between the years living in New York and pursuing higher education, Agard spent two summers studying in Europe. At the Università Cattolica di Milano of Rome, Italy, in Summer 1969, Agard studied Renaissance art and Architecture. And in Greece at the Aegina Arts Centre, she studied fine arts through Summer 1972. Agard's art later became a reflection of her international education, merging religion and cultures into much of her work.

After years of studying and earning numerous degrees relating to art, Agard began to teach, give lectures, and curate at various universities and museums in the United States, primarily in New York. She has also served as a lecturer for the Council for the Humanities, a nonprofit organization that tackles social concerns, from 2003-2005. She was a professor at Bemidji State University.

From the mid 80s, Agard has taken several roles as a guest curator, and has used her time to give lectures and create artwork. As a curator, Agard has greatly contributed to bridge the gap between the modern and contemporary art movements of women.


Our Lady of Guadalakota

Our Lady of Guadalakota is a sepia pencil drawing by Agard created in 1997. Drawn with a sepia pencil, Agard has stated that the drawing symbolizes the catholic roots of Mesoamerica and the Lakota Nation that of which she is a part. Agard often depicts elements of the Virgin Mary to reflect divine femininity in her art. The image of the Virgin Mary depicts female genitalia, which the artist describes as the “sacred door” which humanity enters the world. The title itself is a play on words for the very commonly recognized “Our Lady of Guadalupe,” in Catholicism. The piece is dedicated to the “Legend of the White Buffalo,” a sacred woman of Lakota religion.

Moon Breast Mother: An Installation

Moon Breast Mother: An Installation is a mixed media soft sculpture that includes acrylic paint on a canvas. It consists of ten pieces and each square is 12’’x12’’.

Agard created the work in 2003 after she very ill for some time and overcame breast cancer. She created each of the moons to be a soft sculpture that reflects a woman’s body in many phases and per Patricia Janis Brodis, shows the ongoing theme of her art that highlights female genitalia in a more open perspective. After having this piece in a solo exhibition in 2003, Agard now keeps the ten piece installation in her home in New York.

Wampum Moons of Change

Wampum Moons of Change is a twelve piece installation, with a similar format to her piece “Moon Breast Mother”. It was created in 2009 for the Staten Island Museum collection, titled “CONTACT 1609”. This is also a soft sculpture mixed media piece on a canvas with acrylic paint. Each piece of this installation is a 12”x12” square, each with a different symbol that represents both Native American and Dutch cultures. Purple and creme paints are displayed through each square, each containing images including shells, corn, various animals, and even writing that says “half moon”.  None of the twelve images repeat , and hanging below the twelve piece installation is a grass braid or ribbon.


  • "Art as a Vehicle for Empowerment" in Voices of Color: Art and Society in the Americas (1997, edited by Phoebe Farris-Dufrene)
  • The Chichi Hoohoo Bogeyman (illustrations, 2008)
  • National Museum of the American Indian: Native Artists in the Americas (Brief introduction/guide to interpreting and understanding the art she created while in the program of this museum.)


Nadema Agard has had her work in various solo and group exhibitions since 1979. The majority of her work was found in group exhibitions across New York, Minnesota, Arizona and many more states. Much of her work can still be found in various group exhibitions.

Solo Exhibitions:
  • 1992: “Sacred Door”, Woodland Pattern Gallery, Milwaukee, WI
  • 1993: “Door to Heaven-Door From Heaven”, Gustavus Adolphus College, Schaefer Gallery, St. Peter, MN
  • 1994: “She is the Four Directions”, University of Minnesota, Duluth, MN
  • 1997: “Starblanket Heaven”, Bismarck Art Gallery Association, Bismarck, ND
  • 2003: “Parfleche Visions and Moon Breast Mothers”, New Century Artists, New York
Group Exhibitions:
  • 1979: “Invitational 79”, Gallery of the American Indian Community House, Soho, NY
  • 1980: “National American Indian Women’s Art Show”, Via Gambaro Gallery, Washington, D.C.
  • 1980: “So the Spirit Flows”, Museum of the American Indian, New York
  • 1980: “At the Edge of the Woodlands”, Native American Center for the Living Arts, Niagara Falls, NY
  • 1980: “Voices Expressing What Is: Action Against Racism in the Arts”, Westbeth Gallery, New York
  • 1981: “Invitational 81”, Gallery of the American Indian Community House, Soho, NY
  • 1981: “Visions of the Earth”, Native American Rights Fund Annual Show, Boulder, CO
  • 1981: Gallery of the 21st Century, Santa Fe, NM
  • 1981: “Four Directions”, Gallery for the American Indian Community House, Soho, NY
  • 1981: “Night of the First Americans”, Atrium Gallery, Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C
  • 1981: “Native Americans, the Women and Their Art”, NYU Contemporary Art Gallery, New York
  • 1982: “Native Women Artists”, Gallery of the American Indian Community House, Soho
  • 1983: “Twenty Six Horses Gallery”, Soho, NY
  • 1984: “Artistas Indigenas Traveling Exhibit”, Portland, OR
  • 1984: “WE ARE THE SEVENTH GENERATION”, Native American Indian Media Corporation traveling exhibit, Atlanta, GA
  • 1986: “The Artist and the Spiritual Quest”, Women’s Caucus for the Art, Soho
  • 1986: “Riders with No Horse”, Gallery of the American Indian Community House, Soho, NY
  • 1987: “Native America: Life, Legend and Art”, Trenton, NJ
  • 1988: “A National Women of Color Artist Book Exhibition”, Houston, TX
  • 1989: “A National Women of Color Artist Book Project”, Center for Book Arts Coast to Coast, Soho, NY
  • 1990: “Ancestors Known and Unknown-Boxworks”,Arts in General, Coast to Coast, Tribeca, NY
  • 1991: “All Over the Map: Women and Place”, Moorhead, MN
  • 1991: “Manhattan Days--Prairie Daze”, Bemidji Community Art Center, a two person installation/exhibition, Bemidji, MN
  • 1992: “Visual Arts Faculty Exhibition”, Talley Gallery of Bemidji State University, Bemidji, MN
  • 1992: “Earth Art -- Visions and Interpretations of Nature Through Environmentally Sensitive Art”, Associated Artists of Winston-Salem, Winston-Salem, NC
  • 1993: “Visual Arts Faculty”, Talley Gallery of Bemidji State University, Bemidji, MN
  • 1993: “Retablos-Latino Icons” , United Community Center Gallery of the Americas, Milwaukee, WI
  • 1994: “Gathering Medicine Exhibition”, Art in General, Coast to Coast-Women of Color in the Arts, Tribeca, NY
  • 1994: “World's Women On-Line coordinated by Muriel Magenta” , United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China,, Visual Arts Coordinator, Institute for Studies in the Arts, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona
  • 1994: “Native Survival: Response to HIV/AIDS”, Heard Museum, Phoenix, AZ
  • 1994: “Native Survival: Response to HIV/AIDS”,Hartwick College, Oneonta, NY
  • 1994: “Virgin of Guadalupe Is the Corn Mother, a Multimedia Work”, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
  • 1996:  “Native Survival: Response to HIV/AIDS”, Two Rivers Gallery, Minneapolis, MN
  • 1996: “American Indian College Fund Gala Auction”, Waldorf Astoria Hotel, New York
  • 1996: “Voices of Color”, Purdue University Gallery, West Lafayette, IN
  • 1996: “Frida Kahlo, Modern Portraits of  Modern Idon”, Frasier Gallery, Georgetown, Washington D.C.
  • 1997: “Piecevvorks”, Studio Museum in Harlem, New York
  • 1999 - 1998: “Metaphors: Art Inspired By Everyday Objects and Folklore”, New York
  • 2000: “Mother Love: Native Women and the Land”, New York Gallery of the American Indian Community House, New York
  • 2002 - 2001: “Who is the Virgin of Guadalupe? Women Artists Crossing Borders”, Henry Street Settlement Abrons Art Center, New York
  • 2002: “Stories from the Circle: Science and Native Wisdom”, The Ned Hatathli Museum, Diné College, Tsaile, AZ
  • 2003: “Native American Artists/Scholars: Speaking for Ourselves in the 21st” Gallery of the American Indian Community House, New York
  • 2004: “Native Views: Influences of Modern Culture”, Artrain U.S.A. (Traveling Show 2004-2007)
  • 2005: “Impacted Nations”, Honor the Earth (Traveling Show 2005-2008)
  • 2005-2006: “An Artistic Perspective, Lady Liberty as a Native American Icon”, Gallery of Ellis Island Immigration Museum, New York
  • 2005: “New York Mix: Art of the Five Civilixed Boroughs” Gallery of the American Indian Community House, New York
  • 2008-2007: “¡FRIJOLITOS!: A SMALL WORKS EXHIBITION”, Raices Taller 222 Art Gallery & Workshop, Tucson, AZ
  • 2009: “Contact 1609” Staten Island Museum, Staten Island
  • 2009: “The Importance of in/visibility, Abrazo Interno Gallery, New York
  • 2015: “How to Catch Eel and Grow Corn”, Wilmer Jennings Gallery, New York


  • American Indian Community House Gallery (AICH Gallery): Cultural Center in the Lower Manhattan Area
  • Powhatan Museum: is located in the historic Mt. Pleasant neighborhood (Washington D.C.)

Honors and awards

  • (2003) Ingrid Washinawatok Award for Community Activism: Ingrid Washinawatok was an activist and Native leader before being murdered on a trip to Columbia to work with indigenous groups. The award is given in her honor, and in 2003 Nadema Agard was the recipient.
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 24 Apr 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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