American, Standing Rock Sioux

Artist Dates

b. 1977


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Date of Work



Charcoal, chalk and pastel on illustration board


19 1/2"




Art & Design Study Collection


On display: Second floor


Memorial Union

Artist Bio

David Thunderhawk was born in 1977 and raised in Bismarck, North Dakota. Thunderhawk attended the University of North Dakota from 2000 to 2004., first majoring in history, then in art. After earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from UND he returned to Bismarck, where he worked as a graphic designer while continuing to produce portraits. He is an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

Thunderhawk describes portraiture as "the greatest challenge of artistic expression". He believes that the challenge is not to simply capture an accurate physical likeness, but to strip away the individual's persona and reveal the essence within. In the process of doing so, the artist wants the viewer to contemplate universal issues of life, existence, and being.

Additional Information

Student composed text panel:

David Thunderhawk (American, Standing Rock Sioux, b. 1977)
Self Portrait, 2006
Charcoal, chalk, and pastel on illustration board
UND Art Collections: Art & Design Study Collection
Purchased with funds from the Myers Foundations.

An alumnus of the University of North Dakota, David Thunderhawk graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2004. As a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe with roots in Bismarck, North Dakota, he has much experience working in graphic design and portraiture.

His incisive portrait explores the issue of identity. Thunderhawk states “as someone who is of a background that is equally Caucasian as it is Native American, I have struggled with what such a mixed background means to me at an artistic level.” Self Portrait serves as a representation of the self-reflection of his personal identity rather than merely his physical appearance. Thunderhawk seeks to capture the "universal essence" rather than the superficial appearance of his subjects.