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Artist of the month: Lorelei Kruger combines Yakama traditions and modern technology in her artwork | Explore Yakima

Traditional ways and Yakama-influenced art combine with modern technology in the art of Lorelei Kruger.

Kruger was born and raised on the Yakama Reservation and is a Yakama Nation tribal member. She is married, a mother of five, and a digital artist. Her culture heavily influences her art, which she began creating 10 years ago.

She started screen printing images and phrases on clothing as a hobby and, after learning about copyright law, started to design her own images for clothing and accessories.

“I veered away from what other creators were doing and went to traditional art,” Kruger said. “This is what I know, and this is what I see lacking in the community: people wearing Yakama artwork.”

Starting with a pencil and Sharpie, Kruger evolved in 2017, purchasing an iPad Pro and teaching herself how to create digital art. Using the iPad and software was easy; the drawing came over time. Kruger prefers geometric designs. People and animals take time, and she’s still developing her technique on those.

Kruger grew up in a traditional Yakama household, and her artwork reflects the influences of her mother.

“I just wanted to reflect the way I was brought up in my work,” Kruger said.

Kruger’s mother makes beaded jewelry and sews wing dresses for her family to wear at the longhouse. Her techniques and designs influenced Kruger’s creative drive.

“My goal is to share some of our culture through my art,” Kruger’s website says.

Lucky Arrow Creations is Kruger’s brand name.

“I wanted to have Arrow in the name because arrows propel forward. Growing up on the reservation, we have to carry our traditions and remember everything we are taught, while steadily moving forward at the same time,” Kruger said.

Kruger’s artistic process begins with an idea for a design, and then she starts sketching. The design grows and builds with each stroke of the pen. But it isn’t always that straightforward.

“Sometimes I don’t really have a design in mind, though, and I start out with doodling and just drawing random shapes. Then it only takes a little while for something to pop into my head,” Kruger said. “Those are the designs that seem to flow a little easier and have more detail like the “Flourish” design.”

When Kruger began the “Flourish” image, she wasn’t sure what direction she was going with it. She knew she wanted a woman as the focus, and implied movement. The background began as geometric designs that eventually turned into a floral halo surrounding a Native woman. There’s a simplicity to “Flourish,” but with each glance, a new detail catches the eye.

The Lucky Arrow Creations website is Kruger’s main point of sales, but she has set up shop at holiday bazaars and arts and craft shows at the Yakama Nation Cultural Center. Kruger sells T-shirts with her designs on them but is now expanding her wares.

Many of her geometric designs work well with laser cutting and engraving.

“Earrings are a big commodity on the reservation — big, beaded earrings in any Native community across the nation. I haven’t seen a lot of Native acrylic earrings like on Etsy,” Kruger said. “Crafters have been making laser cut and engraved earrings, and with my designs I figured it’s just like creating T-shirts.”

The earrings Kruger has been creating are made of acrylic and wood, both engraved and cut by laser.

Kruger has been focusing her time and energy on her earrings. She will continue to make T-shirts, but right now the lucky arrow’s path is leading her toward jewelry.

A full-time mom, Kruger has her own crafting room, packed with her equipment and supplies. Lucky Arrow Creations isn’t a side hustle, though. It’s a creative outlet and she enjoys creating.

Kruger’s art has been on display at Collaboration Coffee, 18 S. First St. She displayed eight pieces on canvas in her first gallery show.

The show was titled “Scorpio,” based on a self-image Kruger made of herself.

“Scorpio is an image that I made to feel empowered and try to make other people feel the same. I wanted a strong image and something that, you know, I could reflect out to the world as a strong Native woman,” Kruger said.

Kruger said she’d love to do another gallery show. She liked meeting new people and wants to share what it’s like living on the Yakama Reservation with communities off the reservation.

“I’ve been sharing glimpses into our ways. At the end of the day, it’s a big reason why I want to get my art out there. I really enjoy doing it and it makes me happy to see people enjoying and learning, too,” Kruger said.

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