As a college student majoring in Fine Arts and minoring in Native American studies, Mark Ford dreamed of one day working at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian. Like a lot of university-era intentions, however that plan didn't pan out, but Ford never lost his appreciation for Native art and culture. "My passion is trying to figure out a way to uplift and put some light on Native American artists, "he says. So, in 2009, after years of working in the rug industry, the longtime textile designer merged his passion with his profession, founding American Dakota in his hometown of Calhoun, Georgia.
The 12-year-old rug company has gained a dedicated following for its bold and colorful creations, and its rustic-lifestyle-inspired area rugs can be found in homes across the country, as well as hotels in Santa Fe and cabins in Yellowstone National Park. But the pieces Ford is most proud of are his collaborations with contemporary Indigenous artists.
He first formed a partnership with Rande Cook, a Northwest Coast artist known for his paintings and wood carvings, "He let us put some of his mask and drum designs on rugs," Ford says. They translated great, and that's how we started." Now American Dakota has five Indigenous artists on its roster, with designs ranging from pop art-type patterns to more traditional styles. "When we design a rug, we never discontinue it," Ford says. "So, we're looking for a lifelong relationship with the artists." The artists also make 50 percent of the profit every time one of their rugs is sold. "I always smile when I write that check," Ford adds, "because it just makes me happy that we can provide a little bit of income to somebody who put the work in originally." All American Dakota rugs are made to order and come in six sizes; go to americandakota.com for a list of dealers.
Meet the Artists: Let your rug research take you further into these featured artists' virtual spaces.
We are a small rug company with an entrepreneurial spirit. We specialize in lodge, Southwest, sometimes unconventional designs. When possible we seek relationships with Indigenous artists in order to build a collaborative rug collection. We then split the profits equally with the artist. Being conscious of a higher calling we strive to champion causes that are in line with our belief system.
Your rug will be made just for you, in Georgia and are shipped within 10 business days. American Dakota rugs are CRI certified and comply with their rigorous indoor air quality standards. We take steps to eliminate waste and we are environmentally conscience.
Our core rugs are made from premium nylon, manufactured in American Dakota's exclusive EnduraStranTM fibers. The yarn system is fade resistant, antimicrobial and commercial grade tested for heavy traffic. The yarn cleans easily with water eliminating the harmful effects of chemicals. The rugs are made from premium quality continuous filament nylon. By utilizing "EnduraStran" fibers our rugs will not wear out or crush like Polypropylene. Visit www.endurastran.com for more great info on our yarn.
Nylon is the strongest yarn available. Because of its receptacles and color fastness nylon is the preferred base for our patented color application. Nylon is so strong it's in lariat rope used by champion calf ropers. It's used in repelling rope and parachute cords. It's the perfect resilient yarn that can take the abuse. Polypropylene or olefin yarn will mat under distress and can break. We apply two soil lifting properties in the yarn during the manufacturing process which helps our yarn shed soil. We also apply a synthetic fluoropolmer to our yarn system which is used on non-stick coating for pans and other cookware. This means that our yarn is difficult to wet which makes cleaning our rugs an easy task.
We use a controlled lab to mix our color formulas, which are actually dyes, to ensure perfect color matching. We use "Pre-Met" dyes which have excellent light fastness properties and will not run or bleed when cleaned; this ensures deep dye penetration into our fiber and yarn bundles providing color luster, color fastness and durability. The color formulas are integrated into the design file which ensures the rugs will always be 100% consistent no matter how much time has passed between orders. Our protected color pallets consist of earth tones and hues found in western or mountain homes, these formulas ensure an interjection of color into your home.
American Dakota rugs are made-to-order from state of the art proprietary technology, which provides excellent quality and color repeatability. Our rapid ship system ensures an "always in stock" response to every order. Our rugs are CRI (Carpet and Rug Institute) Green Label Plus certified and comply with their rigorous indoor air quality standards. The Green Label Plus program symbolizes the carpet industry's commitment to a better environment. We are also making a difference in waste elimination, since 1999 our manufacturing facility has not contributed to landfills.
Rande Cook (Galapa) (b.1977) is an ever evolving artist of the Northwest Coast style. A longtime dancer and singer, Rande has grown up expressing himself. His ancestry includes N'amgis, Ma'amtagila and Mamalilikala tribes. His grandparents Gus & Florence raised him with strong cultural views and ties to this rich heritage. Rande's grandfather held the rank of chief and now Rande is proud to hold the position and is the youngest chief within his community on record.
Rande is constantly sketching ideas and investing new art forms to connect himself with his culture. Always adapting his art to his life experiences Rande's work has a more modern feel these days, more fluid so to speak, which is in keeping with the way his culture has interpreted art for centuries, by adapting. It is that process that has lead to Rande's latest expression in textiles.
Rande recently has teamed with American Dakota to showcase some of his signature designs on eye catching area rugs. "I liked the idea of trying a new medium and because American Dakota uses dyes to color their rugs we could achieve the critical colors I needed to translate my design", says Cook. Rande is offering rugs that are 8ft round and some that are 5x8. "It was important to create pieces that could capture the feeling I was after and be utilitarian enough to be on the floor", says Cook. The rugs are made from 100% premium nylon. They employ EnduraStran construction, meaning they are fade and stain resistant and commercial grade rated. The rugs are built to last for generations. The rugs retail from $500.00- $1,000.00 Contact American Dakota for more details 706-217- 9217. View more of Rande's work at his website at www.randecook.com
His grandfather, also an artist, taught Rande how to express Kwakwaka'wakw art by teaching Rande to express himself first. The cultural influence from his grandfather was taught in an almost non-verbal fashion. Rande now understands how powerful his Grandfather's influence was on him becoming an artist.
Early mentors were master carver Calvin Hunt, Will Cook Jr., Beau Dick, William Wasden Jr. The classic form line of Doug Cranmer lent a foundation to Rande's own creative style. As a result of these influences Rande developed an appreciation for Northwest Coast art and its many variations of style and expression.
Since moving to Victoria in 1996 he has been influenced by the work of Don Yeomans. Rande was also fortunate to spend time with Bruce Alfred from whom he learned to bend traditional boxes. Since January 2002, Rande has been apprenticing under John Livingston. This opportunity has allowed him to explore wood carving, mask making, box making and numerous other forms of Northwest Coast art.
Rande has created monumental works in cedar and glass, abstract panels, paintings, serigraphs, bentwood boxes, paddles, drums and rattles. Rande has shown work in numerous galleries and been commissioned by several high-end designers.
Some of his recent works have showcased Rande's graphic design sense. In addition to learning and experiencing art in a traditional way, Rande complements his work by exploring various new media such gold, silver, mastodon ivory and glass. He credits his daughter, Jazmine Merelle (Maya), as the most important influence on the way he lives, works, and creates every day.
Randy L Barton, aka Randy Boogie, a multi-disciplined artist, carries on his Dine' (Navajo) tradition through his visionary live painting performances. Randy is a designer, dancer, DJ, live-performance- painter and music producer. His live painting events are fused with his turntable poetry and experimental earth dancing. He entertains crowds with not only his beats but also his quick brush and knife strokes. Randy says he utilizes Neo Contemporary Native Arts as a vehicle to promote healing and consciousness.
Since 2004, Randy B has captured the attention of Music legends such as Phase 2, B-Boy Remind, DJ Q-bert, pop-master Fabel & many more hip-hop legends with his Native American style of hip-hop roots & future music culture. In 2011, Randy B found himself at NIKE headquarters DJing & doing live art for corporate establishments which sparked nationwide campaigns of urban fashion, contemporary street art & future music collaborations.
The Birth of "The Sacred Cypher" event/performance in 2012 is the beginning of his lifelong project which encompasses the deep soulful sounds of his epic & eclectic DJ sets often performed with indigenous instruments & samplesRandy L Barton, the Future Primitive Dream Warrior is raising the vibration out there by uplifting spirits to new dimensions of spirituality utilizing Neo Contemporary Native Arts as a vehicle to promote healing & consciousness.
Randy says on his website:
Ya'at'eeh shi dine'e , shi ei' Randy Barton yinishye'.
To'ahani dine'e ei nishli.
Ashiihi dine'e ei bashishchiin.
Kinyaa'aanii dine'e ei dashicheii.
Tlisilani dine'e ei dashinali
Akoteego ei hastiin nishli.
Hello my people, my name is Randy Barton.
I am from the Near The Water clan.
I am born for the Salt clan.
My maternal Grandpa is from the Towering House clan.
My paternal Grandpa is from the Many Goats clan.
That's how I am a Man
Randy's artwork is a visual tool meant for educating. He explores the teachings from Navajo creation stories to remind himself of how to find the answers & solutions to life's problems. The foundation of all Randy's recent paintings derives from Navajo healing ceremonies, therefore the beauty way & protection way can be found in every one of his pieces, as well as in his signature.
You will notice iconic symbols in his work that represents ancient knowledge. The brush strokes, gradient backgrounds & shapes represent the colors seen in the mind's eye of the seer. Randy is drawn to creating abstract landscapes manifested from the spirit realm so that the paintings become gifts of prayer, reflection & remembrance of the Dine culture.he paints the vivid visions of the past, present & future of the five fingered people. View more of Rande's work at www.randylbarton.com
"Part of American Dakota's mission is to align ourselves with creative Native Americans who project a positive message in their art. In an effort to be true partners with Native Americans, we split the profits of their rug sales fifty-fifty." Mark Ford
House of Culture Artist Studio
1607 East Hastings Street Vancouver, BC - Canada V5L 1S7
Social Media: @mikedangeli
Mike Dangeli is of the Nisga'a, Tlingit, Tsetsaut, and Tsimshian Nations. He belongs to the Beaver Clan and carries the names Goothl Ts'imilx(Heart of the Beaver House) and Teettlien (Big Wave). Since childhood, Mike has been training under the leaders of his family to be the Simoget (hereditary chief) of his clan among the Nisga'a. His people's traditional territory is the Nass River Valley area of British Columbia, which approximately 500 miles north from Vancouver.
At an early age, Mike began to attend feasts, potlatches and other ceremonies in BC and Alaska with his mother Arlene Roberts to start his training in each of the languages of his diverse background and begin study their art forms, histories, and cultures. At these gathering, Mike also danced with his family's dance group, the Juneau Tsimshian-Nisga'a Dancers, lead by his grandmother and grandfather, Louisa and Reggie Dangeli. From these experiences, he learned how to host his own feasts, potlatches and totem pole raisings, prepare traditional foods, speak for his family, and to perform the songs and dances of his people.
Striving to expand his understanding of and ability in carving, painting and design, Mike always honors opportunities to learn from many Master Carvers including: Beau Dick, Simon Dick, Robert Davidson, Reg Davidson, Henry Greene, Lyle Campbell, and many others. He has also held two major apprenticeships with Master Carvers: Randy Adams, and David Boxley. Also contributing greatly to his work is the regularly returning home to Northern BC and Alaska where he continues to learn oral histories, songs, dances, and protocols from his Nisga'a, Tsimshian, and Tlingit elders.
Mike currently lives in Vancouver, BC where he founded the House of Culture: Art and Carving Studio. The programs that he organized in the House of Culture sought a holistic approach to teaching Northwest Coast art to urban First Nations children, youth, and adults through classes, workshops and seminars. Mike is also the Director and lead Artist Instructor for Indigenous Roots Art Mentorship now on its 18th Round with over 600 Students having gone through its 14 week program Working as primarily a commissioned based artist, the House of Culture also functions as Mike's studio where he creates his art for his commissions, galleries, and ceremonial pieces for his community. Mike's works include masks, drums, regalia, paintings, and limited edition silk-screened prints. In 2011, Mike has completed twenty totem poles and a thirty-foot ocean going canoe.
Mike is also an accomplished singer, songwriter, and dancer. He has had the honor of dancing with The Prince Rupert Nisga'a Dancers, The Tsimshian Haayuuk Dancers, the Git Hoan Dancers, The Rainbow Creek Dancers, and the Daka Kwaan. He was one of the leaders of The Lax Kaien Tsimshian Dancers. One of Mike's specializations is creating mask and other ceremonial wealth that is used in dancing. Since 2003 Mike has shared the leadership of The Git Hayetsk Dancers with his Wife Mique'l Dangeli (Tsimshian). Their dance group reflects the diversity of the urban First Nations population of Vancouver. Its forty members bring together representatives of the Nisga'a, Tsimshian, Tlingit, Haida, Gitksan, and Haisla Nations. With this and previous group, Mike and Mique'l has performed, held lectures, workshops, and carving demonstration in Alaska, Washington, Idaho, Indiana, Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, British Columbia, Ontario, Yukon, Manitoba, Quebec, Austria, Malaysia, Germany and Japan. They take pride in respectfully being traditionally contemporary and make it a priority is to both continue and expand our ancient traditions in contemporary times and as such we sing the songs of ancestors as well as create new songs, dances, drums, rattles, masks, and regalia to reflect and record our experiences as First Nations people today.
Known for her unique ledger-style and floral artwork Avis has been spotted showcasing her pieces at the Santa Fe Indian Market. Incorporating drawings of finely dressed Native woman into her pieces, Charley utilizes her in-depth knowledge of tribal history to accurately and artistically portray these posed ladies. Inspired by floral beadwork patterns and rawhide parfleche layouts, Avis not only creates floral works of art but also wearable pieces like purses and ear rings.
An avid Pow Wow dancer Charley adorns her own regalia with her color sense and signature style. Currently taking additional art classes in New Mexico, Avis is pushing herself into new areas with her artwork and brush strokes.
American Dakota was drawn to her ledger work and infusion of historical subject matter while incorporating a feminine touch. Their fist rug collaboration of running buffalo and delicate butterflies illustrates this infusion. Avis splits her time between school, parenting her daughter and creating signature works of art. Be sure to follow her story on her Instagram account to see her latest project.
Part of American Dakota's mission is to align ourselves with creative Native Americans who project a positive message in their art. In an effort to be true partners with Native Americans, we split the profits of their rug sales fifty-fifty." Mark Ford
Judd, a celebrated contemporary pop-art style, Native American artist, studied communications at Haskell and Oklahoma University.
Steven Paul Judd creates art that makes his audience laugh, makes them think and instills a sense of universal pride among his Native American peers. Judd's hilarious Photoshop-spoofs incorporate mostly vintage photos of Indians into fanciful and quirky settings and are making his fan base (many who are Native) wanting more.
Also, an avid film maker, his yet-to- be-released short film, Ronnie BoDean, as the "Worst Babysitter Ever" was an outlet for his desire to create a Native anti-hero. This short film was funded by a successful Kick Starter campaign and appealed to the veteran actor Wes Studi who plays Ronnie Bo Dean. Judd's creative resourcefulness is bringing much needed Native film subjects into popular culture.
In the past year he's directed two horror films, Death Factory which received international distribution, and Headgame, which just wrapped. Ronnie BoDean has already been selected to a slew of film festivals and showcases, most recently for the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival.
So how has he stayed so consistent with releasing all of his graphic design stuff during a year jam-packed with the notoriously long hours of filmmaking? "I heard people say they work on cars for relaxation. well, I can equate that with Photoshop. I constantly stay up late after work and do the Photoshop stuff every day. For me, one hour feels like five minutes," he explains.
Some of his 'Photoshop stuff' is just for fun and you can find it on his social media accounts like Instagram. Other stuff he sells on his Etsy shop. Some has been used as the official artwork for film festivals. A Tribe Called Red recently hired Judd to design the artwork for their new EP.
The late nights with Photoshop are intermingled with late nights of writing. Judd started out his career as a writer for a Disney show, and hasn't stopped that craft either. He just finished writing a book he's been working on for two years, and we can expect to see that released in the next year or so.
"I want to release it as kind of like a big party or festival, you know how white folks do Burning Man and Coachella and stuff? I want to do something like that with Natives. .. a big event that doesn't have anything to do with a tragedy."
A rug collaboration between Steven Paul Judd and American Dakota made sense because the mill was able to capture the graphic nature of Steven Paul Judd's work. "Steven has been a joy to work with and has enabled us offer a new look in our rug offering" says company spokesman. Not only is American Dakota partnering with Native American artists but they are promoting Native-owned stores that sell Steven's designs. Stores like www.thentvs.com carry Judd's rugs.
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American Dakota participates in the sponsorship program and has the privilege of working with a wonderful and hard-working Lakota family.
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