Traditional forms and Yakama-influenced art are combined with modern technology in the art of Lorelei Kruger.
Kruger was born and raised on the Yakama Reservation and is a member of the Yakama Nation tribe. She is married, the mother of five children and is a digital artist. Her culture greatly influences her art, which she started creating 10 years ago.
She began silk-screening images and phrases on clothing as a hobby, and after learning about copyright law, she began designing her own images for clothing and accessories.
“I deviated from what other creators were doing and went to traditional art,” Kruger said. “This is what I know, and this is what I see is missing in the community: people using Yakama artwork.”
Starting with a pencil and Sharpie, Kruger evolved in 2017, buying an iPad Pro and teaching herself to create digital art. Using the iPad and the software was easy; the drawing arrived with time. Kruger prefers geometric designs. People and animals take time, and she is still developing her technique with them.
Kruger grew up in a traditional Yakama home and her artwork reflects her mother’s influences.
“I just wanted to reflect the way I was brought up in my job,” 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,” says Kruger’s website.
Lucky Arrow Creations is the Kruger brand.
“I wanted to have Arrow in the name because arrows shoot forward. Growing up on the reservation, we have to carry our traditions and remember everything they teach us, while constantly moving forward at the same time,” Kruger said.
Kruger’s artistic process begins with an idea for a design and then begins to draw. The design grows and builds with each stroke of the pen. But it is not always so simple.
“However, sometimes I don’t have a design in mind and I start doodling and just drawing random shapes. So it just takes a little bit of time 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” picture, she wasn’t sure which direction it would take. She knew that she wanted a woman as a focus, and it involved movement. The background began as geometric designs that eventually became a floral halo surrounding a native woman. There is a simplicity to “Flourish”, but with each glance, a new detail catches the eye.
The Lucky Arrow Creations website is Kruger’s main outlet, but she has taken up residence at Christmas bazaars and arts and crafts shows at the Yakama Nation Cultural Center. Kruger sells T-shirts with her designs, but is now expanding its products.
Many of his 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 country. I haven’t seen as many native acrylic earrings as on Etsy,” Kruger said. “Artisans have been making laser cut and engraved earrings, and with my designs I thought it was like creating t-shirts.”
The earrings that Kruger has been creating are made from acrylic and wood, both engraved and laser cut.
Kruger has been focusing her time and energy on her earrings. She will continue to make t-shirts, but right now the path of the lucky arrow leads her to jewelry.
As a full-time mom, Kruger has her own craft room, stocked with her gear and supplies. However, Lucky Arrow Creations is not a side job. It is a creative outlet and likes to create.
Kruger’s art has been on display at the Collaboration Coffee, 18 S. First St. He showed eight pieces on canvas in his first gallery showing.
The show was titled “Scorpio”, based on a picture Kruger made of herself.
“Scorpio is an image I made to feel empowered and try to make other people feel the same way. I wanted a strong image and something that, you know, could reflect to the world as a strong native woman,” Kruger said.
Kruger said he would love to do another show at the gallery. He liked meeting new people and wants to share what it is like to live on the Yakama Reservation with communities outside of the reservation.
“I have been sharing glimpses of our paths. At the end of the day, it’s a big reason I want to get my art out there. I really enjoy doing it and it makes me happy to see people enjoy and learn as well,” Kruger said.