The University of Wisconsin Press

Art / Biography / Native American Studies / Ethnic Studies


Woodland Reflections
The Art of Truman Lowe
Jo Ortel
Foreword by Lucy R. Lippard

"Jo Ortel offers an account and analysis of Truman Lowe's work, and she uses Lowe as a lens to examine larger issues, ideas, and theories within the field of contemporary Native American art."—Jean Robertson, Herron School of Art/IUPUI

Woodland Reflections: The Art of Truman Lowe explores the art and influences of Truman Lowe, a sculptor whose large abstract works in wood and metal are inspired by many elements of Lowe's world, among them river eddies, willows, waterfalls, bluffs and dunes, and the architecture of the handmade canoe. An internationally acclaimed artist whose works are displayed in major museums, Lowe grew up on the banks of Wisconsin's Black River, where his parents were skilled makers of splint-plait baskets and other crafts from their Ho-Chunk tradition.

There are relatively few books on contemporary fine art made by Native Americans, and many of these reproduce old stereotypes. This amply illustrated book is a specific and respectful treatment of a Native artist as an artist. It examines Lowe's work in multiple contexts, including his personal history and the social, political, intellectual, and cultural spheres in which he lives and works. The artist's voice throughout the book is clear and constant: the text is based on extensive interviews with Truman Lowe and on the recent history of the Wisconsin Ho-Chunk. Equally important, the book relates Lowe's art both to mainstream modernist art theory and to contemporary cultural theories of Native critics and scholars.

Truman Lowe is a professor in the art department at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and curator of contemporary art for the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian, which will open in Washington, D.C. in 2004. He has exhibited at such venues as the Heard Museum in Phoenix, the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in Indianapolis, the National Gallery of Art in Ottawa, Ontario, and the Wright Museum of Art at Beloit College in Wisconsin. One of his large outdoor sculptures was included in an exhibit at the White House in 1998.

Jo Ortel is associate professor of art history at Beloit College. Her articles and reviews have appeared in such publications as New Art Examiner and SPOT. She is the 2003 recipient of the James R. Underkofler Award for excellence in undergraduate teaching.

Media & bookseller inquiries regarding review copies, events, and interviews can be directed to the publicity department at or (608) 263-0734. (If you want to examine a book for possible course use, please see our Course Books page. If you want to examine a book for possible rights licensing, please see Rights & Permissions.)

cover of Ortels book on Lowe features one of his sculptures, a fluid waterfall-like assembly of wood strips which seems to flow from a wood framed rectangle.

February 2004

LC: 2003005682 NB
224 pp.  8 1/2 x 11
49 color photos, 48 b/w photos

This title, ISBN 978-0-299-19310-2, a cloth edition, is now out of print.


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Updated March 12, 2012

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