Jaune Quick-to-See Smith's work encompasses both the lyrical and the political. Some of her earlier series, like the Red Lake series ( 1979-80), are delicate landscape abstractions, often in pastel, with such recurrent imagery as horses, buffalos, and petroglyphs. In 1986 Smith completed a set of drawings on paper entitled Horses Make a Landscape Look More Beautiful, which spoke about aspects of her childhood and her view of the land.
Environmental concerns and perceptions of the land have informed and continue to inform Smith's work. The series A View of Western Lands ( 1990) appears to be abstract landscapes, but on another level it deals with the preservation of the environment. In this series Smith "includes vessels traditionally used to store or save life‐ giving things. It is her plea to save the environment. The paintings are composed of layers of pigment, scraped expanses and pictoforms — the vocabulary in which she attempts to portray a reverent view of the land." 1 The Chief Seattle series ( 1991) continues this plea, with each work focusing on a different aspect of the environment, such as Chief Seattle Series: The Colorado and Chief Seattle Series: Prince William Sound. In these works, some of which are pastels and others mixed-media collages, she embeds words and messages to the viewer.