It’s rare to come across an artist who enjoys such obvious freedom from the restraints of convention as Madrona Redhawk. Playful and surreal, Redhawk’s work with make-up doesn’t follow any of the normal rules of form or application. With her signature technique of applying paint to her canvas face via inanimate everyday objects – think a telephone, a hat, a cake – her “tutorials” are performances in themselves.
Redhawk’s unapologetic, mesmerising approach to self-expression is imbued with humour and fun. And though it can seem chaotic, there is method in her madness. “I make art because it allows me to make the ideas I have in my head tangible,” she says, explaining that she fell into it while doing research on her Native American ancestry. “I discovered handprints across people’s faces in multiple artworks as a sign of humanity. I began putting handprints in my make-up, and my art grew from there.”
When she’s not experimenting with make-up, Redhawk draws exquisitely detailed cityscapes, her favourite subject and the work she is most proud of. Next up, she is turning her attention to building a papier-mâché city formed out of cans and recycled food boxes.
How is your work unique to you, or informed by your perspective, experiences, or identity?
Madrona Redhawk: I always say that it is in my blood to do make-up. My tribes, especially the Shawnee, would do extravagant piercings and make-up, including piercings made of feathers and arrows. When I started doing make-up, I didn’t look for guidance, I just sat down and started with no good tools and no clear idea what I wanted to do. I feel like then, and now too, that I’m doing make-up off of instinct.
How do you want to influence the future?
Madrona Redhawk: I would love it if in 50 or 60 years, or after I’m dead, some teenager finds my work and becomes obsessed with it. I’ve done that same thing many times and it has always changed my life and my art. It’s important to find someone to look up to and whose work resonates with you, but it’s cool to have heroes that are dead along with heroes that are alive. The heroes that are dead can always be perfect to you, and everyone needs an idol to look up to!
What creative or philanthropic project would you work on with a grant from the Dazed 100 Ideas Fund?
Madrona Redhawk: I would love to put on a public show doing my performance art in some capacity. I have a thousand ideas but I would love to focus on it being interactive. For one instance there could be me sitting with a camera in front of me next to a table filled with props and a table with paint on it. A line of people could go through and each person could choose any prop and walk through and hit me with it, all on film, resulting in an improv paint video.