- Ada, Oklahoma

Local News

October 10, 2013

Chickasaw artists delight festival patrons


Tishomingo —

James, who isn’t related to Jeremy Wallace, specializes in capturing images of Native American dancers, regalia, traditions and actions that cross intertribal spectrums. 

On a 2012 trip to Gallup, New Mexico, James’ lens captured dancers in full regalia at an intertribal ceremonial dance celebration. From Aztec to Hopi to Chickasaw stomp dancers, his camera burned the sheer beauty, color and pageantry of the people and dance into the eyes of onlookers and admirers.

In 2008, he returned to the Ada area after stints in Los Angeles, New York City, and Great Britain where he earned a master’s degree in contemporary theatre production from the University of Essex. He has written an off-Broadway play and serves the Nation as coordinator of performing arts.

“Being a part of it all (SEASAM) is pretty amazing, really. There is an aspect of it that is completely gratifying, especially when someone expresses an appreciation for your art,” James said, then added with a big smile: “It is the validation we creative types really need.”

Unlike some artists, James doesn’t have an emotional attachment to his photographs. He can sell one knowing full well the image can be reproduced and prepared for the next show.

He, too, was pulling double duty at SEASAM. Not only was he overseeing his table of photographs, but was keeping an eye out for potential buyers for his wife’s splendidly-colored and intricately-fashioned finger-woven sashes, purses, shawls, and even a guitar strap. James is Choctaw but found a Chickasaw woman to be his bride.

Tyra Shackleford, 27, and James were married in February. She is a special projects coordinator at the Chickasaw Cultural Resources Department and frequently participates in stomp dance demonstrations and other activities aimed at preserving the Chickasaw culture while educating visitors about it.

At SEASAM, Tyra spent much of her time performing cultural and heritage tasks while her husband explained her craft to visitors.

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