Umatilla artist featured in Warm Springs

WARM SPRINGS –  Transforming a bare room with colorful horse sculptures, canvases, and traditional Native items is art by CTUIR member Ellen Taylor that is currently on display at The Museum at Warm Springs now through May 29.

The exhibit titled, “Sacred Reflections: The Art of Umatilla Artist Ellen Taylor” consists of 42 bright colored hand painted pieces that are privately owned, as well as pieces that are for sale.

“Ellen’s innovation is phenomenal and the way her ideas hit the canvas is like no other,” said the Museum’s Executive Director Elizabeth A. Woody. “Visitors can expect to experience the incredible outpouring of Ellen’s creativity and be inspired by her immense talent.”

Taylor is a contemporary indigenous artist who is a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation and is also of half Ojibwe descent. One of her favorite pieces is called, “Medicine Man,” and can be found printed on t-shirts at the museum’s gift shop.

“I really enjoyed that piece,” said Taylor about the Medicine Man display. “It comes from a black and white photo. It’s a piece you can look at forever and never get tired of looking at him. I wanted to add color and my style to bring him to life.”

Taylor has been painting since she was in grade school, but distinctly remembers the moment that influenced her career path. She was living in Albuquerque, N.M.  and while playing with a deck of cards she decided to pull out all the face cards. One by one she began drawing on them, changing them into Native American people with tribal designs and clothing.

“That’s how I got started,” said Taylor.

Later she found out that her great-great-grandfather, Poker Jim, was a card player and she believes that moment with the face cards was a spiritual connection between the both of them.

Throughout her career, Taylor has had her artwork on exhibit in several places including Pendleton Indian Markets and the Quintana Gallery in Portland, but so far her most prized accomplishments has been her one woman shows held at The Museum at Warm Springs and Tamastslikt Cultural Institute.

“Both one woman shows at the museums are very significant and difficult to do,” said Taylor. “This will be the last one for a while.”

With the COVID-19 closures, there has not been a lot of opportunity for Taylor to display her work but as the year goes on, and restrictions are lifted, she is hoping to have exhibits at the Wildhorse Resort and Casino Pow Wow, as well as the Pendleton Round-Up.

The Museum at Warm Springs is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5p.m. For admission and other information, visit or call 541-553-3331.

To follow Taylor’s upcoming shows, follow