Krystyna Printup (b.1983) (Tuscarora Nation, Turtle Clan with British European ancestry) is a Brooklyn based artist and educator whose work investigates the histories surrounding her Indigenous identity and traditions of the Haudenosaunee people. Her work explores American Indian folk art, mythological storytelling, and traditional craft.
Presenting to the viewer as a collection of paintings referencing found photographs and historical documents of the 19th century, these works act as a snapshot of her Native America story. The images are both of fiction and non-fiction narratives depicting the people and spaces that have influenced her Indigenous experience. Whether landscape or portrait both act as page in her story displaying the constant need to re address or bring to life the sense of “emptiness” within her subject matter. The landscapes portrayed represent real Reservation Land, but they do not conform to the outsider's romanticized perception of what it should look like. There are no defining markers that explicitly indicate this as Indian Land; instead, the land depicted could be anywhere. The portraits, on the other hand, lack a sense of vitality, with the models holding vacant stares reminiscent of colonial photographs from the turn of the century, which served as inspiration. By injecting traces of Tuscarora traditional crafts like raised beadwork and regalia patterns, Printup re-imagines their context within her work to make the images personal.
The artworks capture the essence of Indigenous spaces and people in a vibrant and expressive manner, creating an inviting and celebratory atmosphere. They are intended to be visually appealing while leaving room for the viewer to interpret and continue the narrative without explicit explanations. The titles of the works serve as a guide, providing context to the piece, but they are entirely imaginative and fantastical. This blurring of fact and fiction is a prominent feature in the Printup's work, reflecting the ongoing nature of Native American history. The fine line of fact and fiction is evident in her work which Printup feels “is the constant state of Native American history” the learning through pretty pictures and non-native written stories, similar to what her experience was like as a child learning what it meant to be native.