Artist's Lecture by Dave Fadden

- Griffiths Arts Center Room 123
man sitting
Dave Fadden at the Six Nations Iroquois Cultural Center, Onchiota, NY, August 2022

David Fadden was born to John and Eva Fadden in Lake Placid, NY, and grew up in the tiny Adirondack Mountain community of Onchiota. In his youth, he grew up surrounded by the wild beauty of the region, by his grandparents Ray and Christine Fadden’s teachings and stories, and by his parents’ creative example and encouragement. Eva Fadden created wood sculptures, and John, a retired art teacher, was a painter and prolific illustrator. 

With strong ties to both Akwesasne and Onchiota, Dave has established a solid reputation as a painter, but he is also recognized as a storyteller, illustrator, writer, and sculptor. An admirer of the Dutch and Renaissance painters, Dave finds inspiration in the old masters’ eloquent and seemingly effortless use of light. His subjects range from traditional Haudenosaunee teachings to intimate and inspired portrayals of community members. Working primarily in acrylics, he often combines fine brushwork with palette knife applications to produce luminous interpretations of Haudenosaunee youth and elders.

David also developed a mosaic-like technique that captures the complexity and dynamic vitality of contemporary indigenous identity. This expressive technique remains a distinguishing feature in some of his most popular works. Another recent direction explores a sort of reverse appropriation, with iconic works by Rembrandt, Grant Wood, and others re-interpreted and given uniquely Haudenosaunee treatment such as Girl with a Wampum Earring and Onkwehonwe Gothic.

Dave Fadden has exhibited his work throughout the Northeast and has received numerous commissions for illustration. Additionally, he is a sought-after storyteller. He was recently invited to re-imagine a living wetland exhibition at the Wild Center (Tupper Lake, NY) from a Haudenosaunee perspective. The new interpretation features the "Thanksgiving Address" and includes painting and audio elements. He is currently redesigning the exhibit space at the Native North American Travelling College (Cornwall Island). Future ventures include a partnership with the John Brown Farm Historic Site (Lake Placid, NY) and a project with Akwesasne Tourism in which he will serve as lead art consultant and designer of an outdoor community-college sculpture project. He was showcased in his first solo show at the Strand Center Gallery in Plattsburgh, NY, in 2020.

Much of his work can be seen at the Six Nations Iroquois Cultural Center in Onchiota, a family-run facility founded in 1954 by his grandparents. Today, he and his brother Donny continue to maintain this very special museum which welcomes visitors from around the world, breaks down stereotypes, and presents accurate understandings of Mohawk and Haudenosaunee culture.

Dave Fadden's lecture is presented in conjunction with the exhibition Each One Inspired: Haudenosaunee Art across the Homelands from the New York State Museum, on display at the Richard F. Brush Art Gallery from October 17 to December 10, 2022.  

Dave Fadden's biography is excerpted from