© 2019 Creative Indigenous Collective. Website by Ben Pease


“The Indigenous viewpoint is important in virtually every culture across the world. The Contemporary Indigenous viewpoint is a facet that is most often overlooked or forgotten. There is a myriad of non-indigenous art about or depicting indigenous culture that focuses on stereotypical or romanticized imagery. We as the CIC look to provide awareness and intellectual creation to adjust the expectation of so-called “Indian” Art. Our work will focus on the Contemporary creations of beauty and resilience which our cultures have consistently implemented simply to continue existing. We seek to simply educate and share our unique perspective in both historical and contemporary society.”


The Creative Indigenous Collective; hereafter CIC, has been recently formed to represent the education and promotion of Indigenous creativity. The CIC encourages creation via traditional art forms, cultural art, technological development, and the distribution and implementation of such knowledge. Genres include but are not limited to visual arts, music, culinary arts, spoken word, creative writing, dance, performance, fashion, design, oral history, computer technology, and environmental art. In many communities around the world, Indigenous art has been overlooked by Western paradigm, when in fact, the Indigenous Peoples’ are the original creatives who require respect via representation. The scope of the CIC is to deliver said representation in communities through event production, exhibition, conference, discussion, academic forum, collaboration and public engagement. This representation will provide validity towards Indigenous creativity through edification while redefining the adopted Western paradigm.




Robert Martinez “can’t get away from new techniques and materials,” and his work blends sources and methods spanning a century. His portraits use traditional oil glazing over an airbrushed acrylic underpainting. His drawings are rendered in pencil and charcoal over digital reproductions of antique documents. He uses as his sources both historical photographs and his friends Facebook photos. He is currently making sand-cast aluminum sculpture out of found soda and beer cans. 

The super-saturated, almost neon colors of his portraits are “a push back against the sepia-toned myth of Native life. It’s not uncommon to see a guy at a powwow in regalia and a Star Wars tee shirt.” He is a founding member of the Northern Arapaho Artists Society and the Creative Indigenous Collective.


Lauren Monroe Jr. is an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Tribe located in Montana. His art reflects Blackfeet cultural motifs and imagery as well as his experience of living and growing up on the reservation. The abstract quality of his acrylic paintings creates a visual narrative with dream like qualities that sometimes leaves the viewer in thought of the story behind them. Currently Lauren resides on the Blackfeet Reservation making art and freelancing on films as art production. He's also part of the newly formed art collective, the Creative Indigenous Collective. A group of young native artists that include Ben Pease, John Pepion, Louis Still Smoking, Robert Martinez, and Gina Still Smoking of Still Smoking Designs. 

Ben Pease uses ledger paper, mining certificates, found photographs and old money along with spray paint, ink and oil layered with cut out and collaged digital paintings. His work is research-based, and arises out of his visits to archives, libraries and museums. “Education is essential.” 

Pease uses a lot of historical photographs, but “is not going for nostalgia. I’m going against nostalgia.” His mirror-image portraits “see the truth both ways, past and future.” The patterns and symbols in his work are inspired by Native and Classical philosophy.

Spotted Horse depicts Crow Chief Spotted horse, Pease’s great-great-grandfather, who grew up in the transitional period from plains warfare to imposed culture. “He gained war deeds against the first land-grabbers, but later in life developed a cooperative philosophy and began advocating for his people in Washington, D.C. and New York.”

John Isaiah Pepion is an artist who hails from the Blackfeet Nation in northern Montana. The art journey has been ceremonial for John as his understanding of his past, family, and culture grows with his work. He descends from Mountain Chief, a Blackfeet leader who preserved history through numerous winter counts. Through art, John finds personal healing and cultural preservation. He speaks with troubled youth in public schools to promote the benefits of art as therapy. John holds formal degrees in Art Marketing and Museum Studies from United Tribes Technical College and the Institute of American Indian Arts, respectively. However, his education continues with every piece he creates and with every story he shares. John incorporates traditional design elements into colorful contemporary illustrations, leaving his work highly recognizable. Most importantly, John’s art deepens his connections to self and place, providing him with a sense of strength.


Gina Still Smoking, Wife and business partner of Louis Still Smoking has constantly been working towards shifting common paradigms via fashion design combined with public forum/discussion. Still Smoking designs has been exhibited across North American and soon to be internationally, all while confronting socio-political issues head on, for example, things like sexual exploitation or sex trafficking.

Louis Still Smoking is inspired by cliff paintings, Lucien Freud, and Frank Frazetta, among others. He has been oil painting since he was six. “My work is educational. I want to convey authenticity, to address real, unromantic issues. I used to do landscapes, but I began asking ‘where are the people?’”

Alcatraz is a portrait of John Trudell. AIM Forward depicts Dennis Banks. Both men were leaders of the American Indian Movement, founded in 1968 in Minneapolis, MN. “Before AIM, there was no college funding. You couldn’t practice your religion before 1978. Your citizenship and your civil rights were denied.”

Still Smoking plans to continue with both historical and contemporary portraiture. He has recently completed a painting of the Chinese artist and activist Ai Wei Wei, and has plans for portraits of Tekakwitha, the first Native American Catholic saint, as well as Chief Pontiac and Chief Tecumseh.

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