Art Works Blog

Notable Quotable: Gregg Deal on the Relationship Between Contemporary Art and Tradition

“I identify mostly as being indigenous, but I'm in a world where I wear Western clothes and I speak English, so respect for the tradition of my people comes in little ways. My kids have traditional middle names, spoken in the language of my tribe, and [I’m] making sure my kids understand the respect of specific items and articles and processes, all of these things are in place specifically to help my children understand that. And while you may not be able to see that in my art, it's part of my work because it's part of my everyday. Taking the time to honor the abilities that I've been given and to honor the voice that I have I believe is honoring the tradition of my people.” –- Gregg Deal

You can read the entire interview with Gregg Deal here. If you're interested in more stories about indigenous artists, check out our Art Talks with visual artist Anna Tsouhlarakis and singer-songwriter Samantha Crain, and our NEA Arts feature on filmmaker Andrew Okpeaha MacLean



Integrity and intelligence make great artists, and Gregg posesses both of those traits in abundance. Traditions are a big part of culture, and they come out in people's art and personality in different ways, at different times and privacy levels. Artists are able to live in different worlds simultaneously. For artists to see, reach for, and create connecivity, yet sometimes have to compartmentalize diferent realms of family, spiritual, & business worlds, can sometimes be a confusing burden. Gregg is a good example of how good artists 'do' good art with dignity; by taking time discerning purposes for his gifts, and integrating them in healthy & constructive ways in all corners of life. 

I think this quote is indicative of only a small part of Gregg's humility, but perhaps it's a tiny glimpse into a bigger reason why he is a succesful artist and an all-around awesome human being.

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