Brian D. Tripp

Karuk Composition

Brian D. Tripp

Karuk Composition



Edition Size



Hand-painting, Pencil


Artist Book

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Library of Congress (LoC)

This unique artwork is part of the Brian D. Tripp Woodpecker Box Set and is not available as a separate title.

Brian D. Tripp is honored both as a traditional dancer and singer, and an enigmatic, outspoken contemporary artist and poet in his Northern California Karuk Tribal community and beyond. Tripp uses his artwork to demonstrate his commitment to his community and Native American culture and his lifelong devotional interest in giving life to traditions and history.

Tripp’s artists’ books and drawings pay reverence to the legendary “ledger drawings” made by Native Americans displaced from their tribes and lands, and moved to camps in the Southeast. Given old accounting ledger books, artists kept distant images alive by drawing their past lives and native lands.

Tripp’s art provides a new perspective on imagery familiar to the artist and Native American tradition: motifs from basket work, arrowheads, ceremonial objects, and Karuk regalia – symbols passed down for generations are reinvigorated by Tripp’s use of vibrant color and formal geometric iconography. His contemporary versions pay homage to the inherent power of images long in use.

Brian D. Tripp has maintained his creative practice and exhibited his art for over 40 years. His work has been exhibited at: the New Museum, New York; Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento; Oakland Museum of California and New York’s Museum of Art and Design; and are in the permanent collections of: the Berkeley Art Museum, Crocker Art Museum, Heard Museum, Morris Graves Museum of Art, The Oakland Museum of California, Washington State Museum and others.

Karuk Composition Book: Circa 1998 through 2011, unique, 100 pages, 9.75 inches by 7.75 inches, composition book with marker and pen.  (Note: BDT does not date his work.)

This book is a meditation on the Native American Karuk Tribe. Various songs/poems describe Tripp’s visions of Karuk identity and history and the Karuk’s general and Brian’s personal interface with American culture.

The Karuk Tribe is an indigenous people of California (Siskiyou County and Humboldt County) who speak a unique isolated language (Karuk). The Karuk are one of the few indigenous people whose origin stories start in the territorial United States of America. They are truly an American people. For an unknown amount of time (possibly for thousands of years) the Karuk, whose name means “upriver people” have resided in villages along the Klamath River, where they continue such cultural traditions as hunting, gathering, fishing, basket making, and ceremonial dances. The Brush Dance, Jump Dance and Pikyavish ceremonies last for several days and are practiced to heal and “fix the world,” to pray for plentiful acorns, deer, and salmon, and to restore social goodwill as well as individual good luck.