Emmi Whitehorse | Ruling Hand



Emmi Whitehorse’s abstract mixed-media work The Ruling Hand is an early work in the artist’s career, dating to 1988. The artist recalls this time in her career as “a period when I was casting about for ideas and coming up with nothing. A very hard and helpless place to find yourself as an artist.” The work is expressive, all at once vibrantly colored and muted, abstracted and also figural, creating a great deal of movement. “It was about being in a position of having no voice,” said Whitehorse. “As a very young artist just starting out and being the youngest at home, I was always treated like I needed help with everything!” Tired of being marginalized or reduced to always needing assistance, the artist chose to create a work that depicted those frustrations and created a space of her own. “People tend to assume authority over you, thinking they’re looking out for your best interest. You get pushed along or onto a path that isn’t your goal or beliefs.” For Whitehorse, this work showed the “murky and surrealistic” quality of dreams and centers herself as an agent of her own narrative.

Oil, chalk, and paper on canvas
37 3/4 x 50 1/4 in
Gift of Harriet and Maurice Gregg
Image by Craig Smith for Heard Museum