G. Peter Jemison, a member of the Heron Clan of the Seneca Nation, was born in upstate New York, in Silver Creek, in 1945, and grew up in Irving, New York, on the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation. In 1967 he received a Bachelor of Science degree in art education from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He also studied for a year at the University of Siena, Italy, in such areas as Renaissance art history, sculpture, and fresco.
Jemison balanced careers in painting, teaching art, and working as a display artist in New York and San Francisco in the early 1970s. In 1971 he was included in a group show at the Museum of the American Indian in New York City, with such artists as George Morrison ( Ojibway, b. 1919), Fritz Scholder ( Luiseño, b. 1937), and Neil Parsons ( Blackfeet, b. 1938). From this exhibit emerged a desire to more fully understand Seneca art and cultural expression. To that end Jemison directed the Seneca Nation Education Program on the Cattaraugus Reservation from 1974 to 1978. 1
Jemison took over as gallery director of the American Indian Community House in New York City in 1978, and in the seven years there he mounted some thirty-five exhibits of both contemporary and tra