Artist of the month: Lorelei Kruger combines Yakama traditions and modern technology in her works | Explore Yakima

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Traditional methods and Yakama-influenced art combine with modern technology in the art of Lorelei Kruger.

Kruger was born and raised on the Yakama Reservation and is a tribal member of the Yakama Nation. She is married, mother of five children and digital artist. Her culture strongly influences her art, which she started creating 10 years ago.

She started screen printing images and phrases onto clothes as a hobby, and after learning about copyright law, began designing her own images for clothes and accessories.

“I moved away from what other creators were doing and went for mainstream art,” Kruger said. “That’s what I know, and that’s what the community is missing: people wearing Yakama artwork.”

Starting with a pencil and a Sharpie, Kruger moved on in 2017, buying an iPad Pro and learning how to create digital art. Using the iPad and the software was easy; the drawing came with time. Kruger prefers geometric patterns. People and animals take time, and she is still developing her technique on those.

Kruger grew up in a traditional Yakama household and her works reflect her mother’s influences.

“I just wanted to reflect the way I was raised in my job,” Kruger said.

Kruger’s mother makes beaded jewelry and sews winged dresses for her family to wear at the longhouse. His techniques and designs influenced Kruger’s creative drive.

“My goal is to share some of our culture through my art,” Kruger’s website says.

Lucky Arrow Creations is the brand name of Kruger.

“I wanted to have Arrow in the name because arrows propel forward. Growing up on the reserve, we need to carry on our traditions and remember everything we are taught, while steadily moving forward at the same time,” Kruger said.

Kruger’s artistic process begins with a design idea, then she begins to draw. The design grows and builds with each stroke of the pen. But it’s not always that simple.

“Sometimes I don’t really have a design in mind, and I start by doodling and drawing random shapes. Then it doesn’t take long for something to come to mind,” Kruger said. “These are the designs that seem to flow a little easier and have more detail like the ‘Flourish’ design.”

When Kruger started the “Flourish” picture, she wasn’t sure which direction she was going. She knew she wanted a female focus and an implied movement. The background began with geometric patterns that eventually evolved into a floral halo surrounding an Aboriginal woman. There’s a simplicity to ‘Flourish’, but with every glance, a new detail catches the eye.

The Lucky Arrow Creations website is Kruger’s main outlet, but it has settled into holiday bazaars and arts and crafts exhibits at the Yakama Nation Cultural Center. Kruger sells T-shirts with its designs, but is now expanding its range.

Many of his geometric designs work well with laser cutting and engraving.

“Earrings are an important commodity on the reservation – large beaded earrings in any Native community across the country. I haven’t seen many aboriginal acrylic like earrings on Etsy,” Kruger said. “Artisans make laser cut and engraved earrings, and with my designs, I thought it was like creating t-shirts.”

The earrings created by Kruger are made of acrylic and wood, engraved and laser cut.

Kruger has focused her time and energy on her earrings. She will continue to make T-shirts, but right now the path of the lucky arrow leads her to jewelry.

A full-time mom, Kruger has her own craft room, stocked with her gear and supplies. However, Lucky Arrow Creations is not a side business. It’s a creative outlet and she loves to create.

Kruger’s art has been exhibited at Collaboration Coffee, 18 S. First St. She exhibited eight pieces on canvas in her first gallery exhibition.

The show was titled “Scorpio”, based on a self-image that Kruger made of herself.

“Scorpio is an image that I created to feel empowered and try to make others feel the same. I wanted a strong image and something that, you know, I could reflect in the world as a as a strong Indigenous woman,” Kruger said.

Kruger said she would like to do another gallery show. She loved meeting new people and wanted to share what it is like to live on the Yakama Reserve with off-reserve communities.

“I shared glimpses of our habits. Ultimately, that’s a big reason why I want to get my art out there. I really enjoy doing it and it makes me happy to see people enjoying and learning too,” Kruger said.

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