Native artwork emphasizes balance, protection, respect, connection
The work of five Native American artists is showcased in new credit and debit card designs.
Artist Maya Stewart selected fabrics and textures to show “the simplicity, yet richness of the river running through the land and the trees that were lasting gifts from previous generations.” She incorporated these into a design submitted for Wells Fargo’s Native Art Gallery card collection. The collection features designs Wells Fargo customers can select to customize the look of their credit, debit, or prepaid cards through Wells Fargo’s Card Design Studio® service.
“The skill, creativity, and thoughtfulness of each design we’ve selected is just a sample of the many excellent submissions we received for this collection. We feel the artistry in these five designs represents Native and Indigenous heritage quite well.” — Gage Hutchens, enterprise president of Wells Fargo’s Native Peoples Team Member Network
Stewart is one of five Native American artists who visually expressed themes of balance, connectedness, protection, and respect in the stunning compositions selected from more than 400 submissions. Emphasizing formlines and abstractions, the art delineates understanding of Indigenous culture by balancing the ancient and modern, using patterns, techniques, and colors informed by heritage and history.
Wells Fargo employees from Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian backgrounds helped select the five featured artists, who represent geographically diverse tribes from across the U.S.
“The skill, creativity, and thoughtfulness of each design we’ve selected is just a sample of the many excellent submissions we received for this collection,” said Gage Hutchens, enterprise president of Wells Fargo’s Native Peoples Team Member Network. “We feel the artistry in these five designs represents Native and Indigenous heritage quite well.”
Meet the artists
I like to mix traditional forms with contemporary palettes. The colors I use today reference modern Indigenous life and regalia, bringing ancient formline into an aesthetic that represents the complexity of urban Native identities.
The Hamsa Hand is an ancient symbol recognized across many cultures in the Middle East, both Islamic and Jewish. This archetype can also be found in the traditional carvings of Pacific Northwest tribes like my own. This hand represents protection and prosperity for people across the globe.
The two triangles that are touching points at the center reference where the two sides connect and come together. This holds multiple meanings to me, one being symbolic of where the past and future meet in the present moment. Another meaning comes from our traditional Karuk worldview as “fix the earth” people where dances are held annually to renew the earth and bring it into balance.
Mentors who have taught me about the art have taught me to be intuitive in the creation of design and the process of becoming creative. The masters of formline art know about the importance of balance just as all our society does. In Tlingit kinship, we are all bound to each other by seeking balance between opposite clans.
The design is a merge of both traditional geometric and floral motifs. The floral motifs were starting to trend among Native beaders back in the late 1800s, not too long after they introduced seed beads to our tribe. They first started beading geometric designs that replicated the geometric designs that were etched in rawhide traveling cases. Then Crows later started to bead flora motifs of the wild flowers that grew in and around our homeland.
The design I chose for this is a floral motif off of my great-grandmother’s beaded moccasins with my added “twist and style” to it. The geometric “hourglass” design is a very common design for Crow beadwork so I wanted to incorporate it by adding it as the base design with my own geometric patterns inside.
I created this textile design with diverse fabrics and textures. The threads represent the wisdom and consistency of my ancestors. My Mvskoke (Creek) grandfather once shared with my family that as long as we have our native land and access to fresh water, we will be able to provide for future generations until the end of time. Therefore, he consistently emphasized, we must always do everything in our power to protect and nourish these resources.
The goal of this piece is to be mindful that heritage and beauty should never be taken for granted, but to fight for [them], no matter what it takes. This preserves who we once were, who we are, and what we want to leave for our loved ones.
Wells Fargo’s Card Design Studio service
To customize a card through Wells Fargo’s Card Design Studio service:
- Sign on to the Card Design Studio service.
- Select your eligible credit, debit, or prepaid card.
- Select a design.
Card customization through the Card Design Studio service is currently not available on mobile devices.
Visit the Card Design Studio service’s Frequently Asked Questions for more information.