Class of Winter 1932

Kathryn Woodman Leighton
b. Plainfield, New Hampshire, 1875
d. Los Angeles, California, 1952
Chief Bullchild, c. 1928
Oil on canvas
44 x 36 inches  

In 1926 the Great Northern Railroad hired Kathryn Leighton to paint twenty-two portraits of Blackfeet elders to promote Western tourism in a cross-country tour. The Blackfeet were suffering widespread poverty and deprivation on the reservation, and Leighton sought to record what was left of their vanishing culture. GHS’s painting is of George Bull Child (b. 1893), a pictograph artist and noted weather dancer who copied the earlier work of tribal artists onto deerskin robes as a means of upholding and recording the traditions of his people. Leighton captures his strength of character as well as the decorative details of his ceremonial headdress and fringed buckskin tunic. Reservation-born Plains Indians were being torn between two worlds—the traditions maintained by aging warriors and the encroaching modern age.

GIFTED: Collecting the Art of California at Gardena High School, 1919-1956 is organized by the GHS Art Collection, Inc, in association with the Gardena High School Student Body and curated by Susan M. Anderson.