Doug Coffin (Potawatomi/Creek) b. 1946
"Earth Messenger Totem,"
Painted steel, 28' x 6' x 2'
Wheelwright Museum, Santa Fe, New
Gift of Meg Heydt
Doug Coffin is best known for his monumental, brightly painted steel
and mixed media sculptures. He has developed a style that suggests a fusion of
the ancient totemic form used by many Native cultures with the abstraction and
geometric forms of the modernist.
Coffin has been associated with the Santa Fe Indian art market since
the 1970s. His use of bright colors and familiar icons of Indianess are
directly as a result of his Santa Fe experiences. He comes from a very well
known and well respected family in Lawrence, Kansas. His father was athletic
director at Haskell Indian College for many years. In fact, the newly built
athletic center is named after him. As a tribute to his father, Coffin
constructed a totem which was placed in front of the center.
"Earth Messenger Totem" is good example of Coffin's monumental
structures. The totem is composed of two parallel painted steel beams. Balanced
atop of the beams in a horizontal configuration are a series of beams that
create bands of color. Resting in the center of the first two rows of
horizontal beams are three large circles painted yellow. The entire sculpture
measuring 28 feet in height is capped with a large red triangle.
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