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Helen Smoker Martin is a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and a life long resident of the Tomotla community in Cherokee County, NC. Helen graduated from Murphy High School in 1993, then went on to graduate from Appalachian State University in 1998 with a degree in Social Work and a double minor in sociology and political science.
She is the daughter of the late Albert Martin, Sr. of the Tomotla Community, and Lena Smoker Martin of the Snowbird Community. Helen shares a studio with her daughter, who is a budding artist herself; her fiance Brad McMillan, also an accomplished artist; and her new son.
Helen's art is strongly influenced by her family's long tradition of political service and strong foundation of Cherokee culture. Much of her work has a political/humorus/commentative aspect to it. Much of her work not only represents her Cherokee heritage, but that of her daughter's heritage (Lakota Oglala Sioux) as well and is reflective of the strong voices of the women in her family.
Helen has artwork in the ASU Multicultural Gallery, and the Museum of the Cherokee Indians' Timberlake exhibit, participated in the Cherokee Downtown Arts Project, and has received awards in various art competitions in past years. Helen was chosen as the sole representative of the american indian population in the USDA Cultural Diversity art show in 2008, and she has pieces in installations of India and China for TransAmerica Cultural Exchange's Tile Project: Destination the world. She is a member of good standing with the Department of the Interior Indian Arts & Crafts Board.
Helen's work is almost exclusively done on canvases custom made by her fiance Brad McMillan. Porcupine quillwork is a common artform shared by Helen and Brad, and is what brought them together.