Native American Sculptor Addison Karl at Rainmaker Gallery

Image shows: Addison Karl

Exquisite bronze and glass creations from Native American sculptor Addison Karl, of the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations, are at Rainmaker Gallery this summer. Here he talks to gallery owner Joanne Prince…

What was your journey to becoming an artist?
I had a strong affinity for the arts as a child, spending most of my time drawing and also taking art lessons. In high school, I had an excellent art teacher who strongly encouraged me to pursue painting and I discovered screen printing as well. Building on years of painting figures, I stumbled my way into learning sculpting and bronze casting at Two Ravens Studio in Tacoma, Washington. With the assistance of the Chickasaw Nation, I worked on a range of reference materials for figurative sculpture and, subsequently, I was fortunate that one of my pieces took First Place for Bronze at the Heard Museum Indian Fair & Market.

You spend a lot of your time in Venice. How has the ancient Venetian art of glass-making on Murano island influenced your artistic process?
In Venice, Murano island has more than 800 years’ expertise in glass and there is also a long, connected history between both Murano and Native American peoples with trade beads. I was getting more in touch with Italy and Venice and enquired about working on Murano. By chance, I met a lovely woman who owned a vintage Murano glass store, and she kindly introduced me to a glass foundry. I started working with lost wax for glass, while applying the lost wax and casting techniques that I already used to create bronze sculptures. Glass allows me to explore themes of transparency, light and transformation. Through this medium, I can represent elements such as water, sky, or ethereal aspects of the Chickasaw and Choctaw cosmologies. The interplay of light through the glass brings a dynamic quality to the sculptures, symbolising the ever-changing relationship between the past and the present, the physical and the spiritual.

Hushtola Ummona

Many of your sculptures incorporate stunning bead-like motifs. Is there significance within these forms?
Pre-contact with Europeans, beads crafted from materials such as bone, stone, shell, wood and copper were the norm in North America. For me, each of those beads is an expression of a moment in time, a fragment of a story from a world long past. Beads, each with their own history and significance, become the vehicle through which I ‘draw’ the lines of our collective memory. The act of beading is a meditative process for me, a process taken out of context. A way to connect with the ancestors and bring their stories into a contemporary context.

Tell us about the sculptures on show at Rainmaker Gallery…
Recently, I have been working on smaller, more intimate pieces. The figurative works on display explore Native beauty, and our canon and legacy through the beadwork and symbols. The abstraction and subtraction of the pieces are the modern and literal translation of so much of our ‘wholeness’ that we have lost or sacrificed over the years.
Due to its significance to my grandfather, and proximity to my childhood home, Arizona turquoise is the main inspiration for the patina used in my latest works.

The sculpture Hushtola Ummona was created during the pandemic, while we had limited movement. I wanted to give her a compositional imbalance; a deduction of material that is filled back in with the beadwork pattern. An implication that inside the clay and the form, close to the core – there is a tactile, beautiful representation that speaks to who we have always been.

Kulli is a newer sculpture, created in clay throughout 2023 and finally manifested in glass. The darker, contrasting graniglie floating inside creates a weight and heaviness to the piece which complements the straight and curved line work.

Addison Karl’s work is on display now at Rainmaker Gallery, 140 Whiteladies Road, BS8 2RS; To learn more more about the Chickasaw culture, visit