A Chippewa Indian, LaFountain was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. He is an up-and-coming artist who blends tradition with innovation in his work.
When carving a piece of alabaster using the reduction method, LaFountain uses hand and power tools to liberate figures from the stone. His images can be either male or female. Always the figures are proud and rather stoic in appearance, as though paying homage to Indian tradition. The bronzes come to life through the accretion method, with the artist building up shapes in wax to be later cast in bronze. Perhaps the volumes of LaFountain’s bronzes are smoother and more monumental than the stone pieces, but the noble expression imparted to the faces is the same.
“My stone images are drawn from my Native American heritage…,” LaFountain says. “They capture moments in a warrior’s celebration of life – chanting, hunting, dancing; proud women in feathers and shawls; creatures of the earth and sky; close family ties.
LaFountain draws his appreciation for traditional aspects of Indian life from childhood experiences. His works are born of many recollections, such as “a fancy dancer at powwows creating intricate beadwork for feather and buckskin costumes,” the artist says.
“I’m a modern Indain, up to date, brand new,” LaFountain adds. “My stone art is a gift passed down from warriors past and living.”
LaFountain’s pieces are not especially large. They are best suited for the tabletop. Also, ball bearings installed in the bases of the pieces allow the owner to rotate the sculpture in whatever viewing position is deemed best. Such details are indicative of LaFountain’s concern for workmanship.
He is an artist to watch.