Kathy Whitman , Elk Woman, creates heart warming original art. Known primarily for her sculpture of alabaster, soapstone, and marble, she is also recognized as an accomplished painter and jeweler. Evidence of this is, Kathy has been a consistent award winner at the Santa Fe Indian Market.
The harmony achieved in her work and in her life comes through magnificently. Her sculpture is typified by mothers, children, birds, bear, horses, buffalo and prairie dogs. Kathy’s animal sculpture almost invariably are combined with people to highlight the link between man and animal. Her vibrancy as a young sculptress is exemplified by an ever changing variation on themes, reaching to flowing abstractions that defy a singular description.
Spiritual beliefs form the essence of Elk Woman’s work. To see and touch the things she has made connects us as one with the stone, the earth, and the universe. Kathy says that the texture, color, motion, and composition of her work is inherent in the stone. The subject and form “just come out” as she liberates the spirit within.
Kathy credits her five children for much of her inspiration. She says that they teach love and happiness. The images created by her hands echo the sense of spirit found in both her children and the stone.
Born August 12, 1952, in Bismark, North Dakota, Kathy Whitman was raised on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. Enrolled as a member of the Mandan tribe, she derives her tribal affiliation from her father who is of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Tribes. Her mother is of Norwegian dissent.
It was during a Sun Dance Ceremony in 1977, in South Dakota, that she received her Indian name, Elk Woman. The ceremony transformed her life and guided her on a stronger path. That experience helped reconnect her with traditional ways and guided her toward a more positive spiritual direction.
Elk Woman works hard, sets goals, and has grown into her Indian Name.The elk is an animal with great endurance and grace, and among the northern plains tribes, the elk dreamer society is associated with love. Elk Woman’s sculpture captures that great healing power of love. People buy her art because it makes them feel good.
Kathy Whitman has been an artist-in-residence and a board member of the North Dakota Council of the Arts. Her art has won numerous awards and honors at many prestigious events including Santa Fe Indian Market; Northern Plains Tribal Art Show; San Juan Batista, Eight Northern Pueblos, and at the Gallup Indian Ceremonial art show. Elk woman was one of 137 Native American artists selected for the book Beyond Tradition, by Jerry and Lois Jacka, and she was one of five artists whose work was featured on the 1989 Southwestern Association of Indian Affairs (SWAIA) poster.