1992, Color Photograph,
15.5x 23”,
Gift of the artist,
David Orser and Ossie Abrams
More Info


Ken Blackbird grew up on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation in North-Central Montana. He spent time as a welder in Texas and a forest ranger and fire fighter in Yellowstone before graduating from University of Montana with a degree in journalism. It was working for a newspaper that eventually led him to photography. Ken Blackbird is Assiniboine/Gros Ventre and an enrolled member of the Fort Belknap Indian Community of Montana. He has been a photojournalist and freelance photographer for over 30 years. In his photography, he focuses on light, layers and the people themselves. He strives to capture people as they truly are: the way they should be. Ken Blackbird currently lives and works as a photographer in Cody, Wyoming.
Click here to visit Ken’s Website


Questions for Viewing:

First, always take a few moments to really look at the artwork.

VTS Questions

  • What do you think is going on in this picture?
  • What do you see that makes you say that?
  • What else do you see in this picture?

Additional Questions

  • What type of art is this?
    • For example, is it a painting? (photography) How can
      you tell?
  • Has anyone been to a powwow?
    • What do you see at powwows?
      • Powwows can be different for each tribe.

Art Vocabulary

  • Landscape: All the visible features of an area of countryside or land.
  • Photograph: A picture made using a camera, in which an image is focused onto film or other light-sensitive material and then made visible and permanent by chemical treatment, or stored digitally.
  • Radial Pattern: Any type of pattern based on a circle with its design extending from center.
  • Balance: The distribution of the visual weight of objects, colors, textures, and space. If the design was a scale, these elements should be balanced to make a design feel stable.
  • Symmetry: Elements (shapes or forms) used on one side of a design is also used in a similar way on the other side of the design.
  • Repetition: The use of two or more like elements or forms or shapes within a composition. The systematic arrangement of a repeated shapes or forms creates pattern.

Lesson Plan: Inspired by Sound - Watercolor and Ink, Radial Design

Lesson Overview: Starting with a circle, students will create art that is inspired by the sounds of a powwow. They will discuss the use of shape and line to create balance, repetition and symmetry.


National Standards

  • VA:Cr1.1.4a: Brainstorm multiple approaches to a creative art or design problem.
  • VA:Cr.1.2.4a: Collaboratively set goals and create artwork that is meaningful and has purpose to the makers.
  • VA:Re8.1.4a: Interpret art by referring to contextual information and analyzing relevant subject matter, characters of form and use of media.

Montana Standards

Visual Arts

  • Anchor Standard #1:Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work. Collaborate on multiple approaches to a creative art or design problem and develop a plan from concept to completion for an artwork.
  • Anchor Standard #3: Refine and complete artistic work. revise artwork on the basis of insights gained through discussion.
  • Anchor Standard #8: Construct meaningful interpretations of artistic works. analyze subject matter, form, and use of media in artwork.


  • Essential Understanding #3: The ideologies of Native traditional beliefs and spirituality persist into modern day life as tribal cultures, traditions, and languages are still practiced by many American Indian people and are incorporated into how tribes govern and manage their affairs.


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