19-Weh-Pom and the Star Sisters

Weh-Pom and the Star Sisters, 2004. Judith Lowry (Hammawi Band Pit River/Mountain Maidu/Washo/Scottish-Irish/Australian), b. 1948. Acrylic on canvas. Museum purchase, 2009 (26/7500–26/7505).

In a pictorial style evoking the early Italian Renaissance paintings she admired as a child living in Europe, Lowry depicts family stories and oral traditions of Native California. Here, she portrays Weh-Pom (Coyote), who traveled to the heavens in pursuit of the five Star Sisters only to find that they preferred dancing to his advances. The Star Sisters are shown in traditional regalia of tule skirts, shell necklaces, basketry hats, and flicker headbands, and hold baskets filled with stars.

The paintings of Judith Lowry (Hammawi Band Pit River/Mountain Maidu/Washo/Scottish-Irish/Australian, b. 1948) are typically large-scale narratives that spring from family stories, California Native oral traditions, and pop culture, and through them she addresses issues of cross-cultural exchange, stereotypes of all kinds, women’s roles in history, and the politics of religion.

Although she was interested in art as a child, Lowry did not attend college or became a working artist until she reached her 30s, after raising her family. Today she is among the most recognized Native artists, and is included in numerous exhibitions and collections. She lives in Nevada City, California.


Vantage Point: The Contemporary Native Art Collection

The National Museum of the American Indian
NMAI on the National Mall | Washington, DC