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Who was Amanda Crowe? Google honors legendary Cherokee artist

In honor of Native American Heritage Month, Google’s doodle team put together a video showcasing the legacy of Eastern Band  Cherokee Indian artist Amanda Crowe, beloved for her smooth, intricate animal woodcarvings.

According to the Cherokee Encyclopedia, Crowe was born in 1928 in North Carolina’s Qualla Cherokee community and began learning to “draw and to carve” before she turned five years old. 

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“I was barely big enough to handle a knife, but I knew what I wanted to do—I guess it was part of my heritage,” Crowe once said, according to the encyclopedia. By the time she turned eight, she was selling her woodwork. 

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Both of Crowe’s parents died when she was young, and she was raised by a foster mother for much of her childhood. She’d study woodcarving with her uncle and eventually earned a scholarship to study at the Art Institute of Chicago.

At the institute, Crowe experimented with more materials, but always came back to wood.

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“The grain challenges me to create objects in three dimensions,” she explained. “A mistake or flaw in the wood will improve your design. To me, a knot can be the best part.”

She went on to earn her Master of Fine Arts degree and traveled to Mexico to study with famed sculptor José de Creeft before returning to North Carolina. 

In her hometown, Crowe began teaching art classes at her local high school and established her own studio.

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The legendary artist’s work has been displayed at Atlanta’s High Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Asheville Art Museum, the Mint Museum in Charlotte and in private collections around the globe.

Crowe died in 2004 at the age of 76.

Today’s Google doodle was compiled in collaboration with the Qualla Arts & Crafts Mutual and with the help of Crowe’s nephew and former student William ‘Bill’ H. Crowe, Jr. It features some of Crowe’s own words, plus “high resolution imagery” of her works housed in her homeland.

Read more about the doodle and about Crowe at google.com/doodles.

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