Courtesy Keith Secola, Jr.
Keith Secola Jr. who has recently graduated from IAIA - has already made an impression in Indian Country. His work can be seen in the “On Fertile Grounds” exhibit at the All My Relations Gallery in Minneapolis

“A Native American Life” – the Amazing Art of Keith Secola, Jr.

Alex Jacobs

Keith Secola Jr. who has recently graduated from IAIA - has already made an impression in Indian Country. His work can be seen in the “On Fertile Grounds” exhibit at the All My Relations Gallery in Minneapolis and was featured at All My Relations Art at the Pow Wow Grounds there. 

He was juried into the AHA Progressive Arts Festival in Santa Fe with a select few native artists which is kind of a big thing for new artists. He’s already done the Heard Museum Market and all the Santa Fe acronyms, IAIA, MoCNA, IFAM, SWAIA and pop art venues like Studio Central Collab and Eggman & Walrus.

“American Horse” Spray paint on wood

And yes, he is the son of Anishinaabe singer/songwriter Keith Secola, of NDN Cars and Wild Band of Indians fame. At first we all wondered when we saw the name among recent IAIA graduates, until it became obvious. Yes, this is a new generation in Santa Fe and around Indian Country.

Keith Secola Jr. (Northern Ute/Bois Forte Chippewa) is 27 and mainly grew up in the Southwest. He received a BFA in painting with a focus on silkscreen printing from the Institute of American Indian Arts in 2012.  His father, a traveling musician was an early influence, exposing him to contemporary Native art, markets and events at a young age. Keith says his father took him to his first concert, Nirvana, when he was 4 years old, since Keith Sr. was playing the Roskilde Festival in Copenhagen, Denmark!  Keith currently works and lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where among other things, he collaborates with Warehouse 21, a community youth center, to work on his silk-screening.

"Conduit"  Serigraph print on wood

According to Keith Secola Jr:  “My father and I have very close and creative relationship.  Although I do play music, my main focus over the years has become fine artwork.  He has helped push my creative work.  Some of the earliest inspirations have been traveling with him and being surrounded by contemporary native artwork since I was a kid. It has always been around in my life.”

“Combatant” Spray paint on paper

“My artistic expression focuses on the historical and contemporary aspects of Native American Life, we may live in these modern times but we still have relations and these indigenous ties with animals and the natural world. I also listen to native elders as they provide stories and knowledge that I apply towards the content and meaning in my work.”

“As an undergrad at IAIA, I focused on printmaking and became very visual with layering work.  Starting with a drawing that acts as the main figure within the piece, then creating a variety of images or text to unify my idea.  I may appropriate historical native imagery through advertisements and other social outlets to assist my visual goal. The mediums can range from large-scale serigraphs, murals, painting, and drawings that blend together to create a cohesive piece.  I like to use rich and saturated colors in my art to represent the natural world.”

“Endangered” - Mixed Media on wood canvas

“The content I have been working with lately has to do with indigenous animals sacred to Indian tribes, the struggle during modern times and the annihilation of natural resources to Native Americans in history.”

“Growing up skateboarding I have been exposed to a variety of graphic artwork and illustrations through the skateboard culture and have embraced these qualities in my own artwork. My most recent works are silkscreen prints on wood and paintings. All of my pieces start from drawings. That is the base of my artwork, I established a very graphic quality to my work through drawing and line. I use other mediums that register well with my style, like silkscreen printing and painting to push the piece. Printing allows me to replicate my images. During my undergrad studies at IAIA I became intrigued with the power of replicating an image.”

A few of Secola, Jr.'s deck designs

Secola has found this power in the print medium to create iconic imagery that comes across in any size or scale. His work easily fits in new generation contemporary venues like Juxtapoz magazine, with pop art fetishes and graffiti flourishes. But Secola can force you to fill in the blanks and the air that surrounds his main image as he confronts you with a graphic idea that floats in the air but is tied with invisible strings of power and light to ancient concepts and philosophy.


“The Crown” Serigraph print on woodKeith Secola, Jr. does live and act and move and create, all within this very real concept of a “Native American Life”, from rez to city to pow-wows to skateboards. Some Indian Artists call it “Living the Dream”, that we live what others only dream of. Keith has stated, “I look up to all the great artists ahead of me, and make art for the people, myself, and my loved ones.” Keith has a whole big wonderful life ahead of him and he’s just starting out on whatever you want to call it, the Pow Wow Highway, the Good Red Road, or the Good Medicine Trail.

Congratulations and good luck. 

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