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Ethan Brown

Pamunkey

“I take an organic, intuitive approach to creating my artwork, exploring both my personal mythology as well as my cultural Pamunkey heritage through a mixture of traditional and contemporary techniques and materials.”

Ethan Brown works in multiple mediums including Gourd art, Oil Painting, Sculpture, and Filmmaking. He is a Pamunkey Tribal Citizen and resident of the Pamunkey Indian Reservation in King William, Virginia. He has completed visual art commissions for the Big Ideas Company in London, England; the King William Historical Museum; and for Chesapeake Bay National Parks, among others. Ethan’s oil painting, “Walter Bradby” (2018) is part of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts’ permanent collection. Ethan recently co-directed the experimental short film Tsenacommacah (2020), and contributed photography to the EMMY Nominated short documentary C onnecting Currents- Pamunkey River: Lifeblood of our People (2020). His gourd, “Medicine Man,” recently won 3rd prize at the annual Juried Art show at Arts on Main in Gloucester VA (2021).


Artist Statement

I take an organic intuitive approach to creating my artwork, exploring both my personalmythology as well as my cultural Pamunkey heritage through a mixture of traditional andcontemporary techniques and materials. In this way, creation has been a way for me topersonally connect with identity and explore my community’s past, present, and future, and inturn these stories and experiences are reflected in the finished products, resulting in piecesthat show different aspects of culture and history while simultaneously existing in a uniqueworld of their own visual aesthetics and symbols.

I first started making gourd art by watching my Grandma who lived on the Reservation and worked at the Pamunkey Indian Museum, make and sell gourd art there. Gourds are traditional material that would be used in varying ways— as containers, as instruments, etc. The artistic techniques I employ are contemporary, though the material of the gourd itself feels ancient in your hands when working. It is this magical experience, because it is often the mottling on the gourd’s shell itself that suggests the lines of the artwork. My process usually starts with a line drawing that gets burned into the shell of the gourd. I then use paints, dyes, stains and varnish to achieve the desired effect.