Doug Coffin (Potawatomi/Creek) b. 1946
"Earth Messenger Totem," n.d.
Painted steel, 28' x 6' x 2'
Wheelwright Museum, Santa Fe, New Mexico
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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