“New Identities in Chickasaw Art” features artwork ranging from handbags and jewelry to hand-crafted knives and paintings that capture the essence of tribal elders.
This celebration of Chickasaw art and culture opening 3 p.m. Monday, Dec. 13, will be one of the first events conducted at the tribe’s new tourism offices in Oklahoma City’s Bricktown.
The offices are located on the first floor of the original Bunte Candy Factory building, 1 East Sheridan, Suite 100.
“These artists are incredibly talented,” said Bill Anoatubby, Governor of the Chickasaw Nation. “It is truly inspiring to see such a variety of creative expressions of Chickasaw culture and heritage.”
Live models will display textiles, hand bags and jewelry from Chickasaw fashion artists Margaret Wheeler, Maya Stewart and Kristen Dorsey. The work of tribal artists Dustin Mater and Tracie Tuck Davis will also be displayed, along with that of well-known Chickasaw artists Mike Larsen, Jeannie Barbour, Daniel Worcester and Joanna Underwood.
The exhibit will run through January 2, 2011.Larsen’s paintings can be seen all around the state and the U.S. Well-known for his mural of Native ballerinas adorning the State Capitol, Larsen was also chosen by the State of Oklahoma to create a United States Postage Stamp honoring Oklahoma’s centennial. In 2006, the Chickasaw artist was named “Oklahoman of the Year” by the state magazine, “Oklahoma Today.” In 2004, Larsen was commissioned by the Chickasaw Nation to paint 24 paintings for the Chickasaw Living Elders Project, “They Know Who They Are.” Two years later, the Chickasaw Nation commissioned him to create a second collection of Living Elders consisting of 24more paintings, entitled “We Are Very Proud to be Chickasaw.” Mike and his photographer wife Martha have authored companion books published by the Chickasaw Press for these projects.
Tracie Jeanine Tuck Davis won the Best in Show Award at the 2010 Southeastern Art Show and Market. A Chickasaw, Davis derives her inspiration for her artwork from historical subject matter and has a passion for abstract art. Working in mixed media and paint, she translates her enthusiasm into artwork. Recently she began working with granite and displayed many pieces at an exhibit at the McSwain Theatre Gallery in Ada. She has created works for many private collections, and continues to seek out motivation from her Chickasaw ancestral roots.
Margaret Roach Wheeler is one of four Native American fashion designers/textile artists chosen to speak at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the Native American Indian and to serve as a NMAI artist in residence. Of Chickasaw and Choctaw heritage, Wheeler has won numerous awards for her textile designs, including the President’s Award at Red Earth Festival and Eiteljorg Indian Market Museum Purchase Award for the feather cape and kilt she designed for the Chickasaw Nation’s production of Lowak Shoppala’. Formerly an educator, Ms. Wheeler is now owner/operator of her company, Mahota Handwovens, designing and marketing hand-woven contemporary fashion, costumes and traditional Native American regalia.
Daniel Worcester creates knives that have been exhibited across the United States, including the Museum of Arts and design in New York. With more than nine First Place honors from Santa Fe Indian Market and Red Earth, he continues to create beautiful, handmade knives from a variety of found materials. Items such as wagon springs, old files and cast off tools inspire his artistry for each knife he makes. Exotic materials such as deer antlers are also found in Worcester’s works, each handmade at his studio in Southeastern Oklahoma. His creative process and innovative processes continue to inspire all who see his finished works.
Joanna Underwood’s award-winning pottery has garnered recognition in many outlets including the Red Earth art competition and the Santa Fe Indian Market. The Chickasaw citizen earned Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Oklahoma where she was introduced to the fine art of hand-coiling pottery. Her beautiful pottery, incorporating traditional circles, spirals and other southeastern designs, represents the ancient art of her ancestors. Smoking the pottery using cedar branches and dried pine needles gives her works a beautiful blackened and smoky appearance.
Kristen Dorsey’s Chickasaw inspired jewelry has been displayed across the Chickasaw Nation, including the new Chickasaw Cultural Center. She holds a bachelor's degree in American studies with a concentration in Native American studies and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in studio art with a concentration in small and large metals. Both her academic work and artwork focus on issues in cultural preservation and techniques in revitalizing Chickasaw visual languages. Dorsey took the Best of Culture and Best of Jewelry in the recent 2010 Southeastern Art Show and Market.
Maya Stewart’s handbag line, Crazy Snake Rebellion, has been represented at both the New York and Los Angeles Fashion Weeks. Stewart, Chickasaw/Creek, attended the London College of Fashion where she graduated with a Bachelor’s with Honors degree in Accessory Design. She finds inspiration in the great Muscogee (Creek) people and draws on the artistic nature of her indigenous tribal heritage where art and design were a natural part of her tribal culture and everyday life. Her aim is to provoke visitors of her line to consider the graceful relation to American Indian cultures and themes. Stewart strives to create one-of-a-kind products that are environmentally and culturally aware.
Dustin Mater led the design work for his tribe’s production of Lowak Shoppala’ in 2009 and as a result, illustrated the book “Spider Brings Fire.” He attended Santa Monica College and the Multimedia Institute of Hollywood. Working in various graphic arts environments, he found his roots in 2007, calling him toward his Native traditional style with a flare that is matchlessly his own. His designs and illustrations are uniquely Native American with a modern twist on the traditional style.
Jeannie Barbour, Chickasaw artist and writer, was named Master Artist by the Five Civilized Tribes Museum. With a fine arts degree from Oklahoma State University, Barbour completed her master’s course work in museum studies and Native American history. She is a prolific writer and lectures throughout the U.S. on Chickasaw history, culture and art. Barbour, a graduate of the prestigious Leadership Oklahoma program, has also served as director and writer for the award-winning Chickasaw Press. She has been employed by the Chickasaw Nation for more than 20 years.
Brent Greenwood’s work can be seen on the cover of this year’s Oklahoma Tourism Guides. Greenwood, of Chickasaw / Ponca descent, is a 1994 graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts. The vivid color and imagery of his works have been celebrated in the Kiva Gallery in Santa Fe New Mexico. His work is primarily in acrylics, representing subject matter from historical and current cultural events. The faceless figures in his works are not silent but speak volumes through colorful images, shadows and intention, that captivate the onlooker, giving them an understanding of Native America that can only be spoken through the strokes of his brushwork.
The tribe recently established the office in Bricktown to act as a tourism hub, offering information on all Chickasaw Nation tourism opportunities. The Chickasaw Nation’s territory includes more than 7,600 square miles of south-central Oklahoma and features many recreational attractions. A highlight for cultural tourism is the new Chickasaw Cultural Center in Sulphur, Okla. This state-of-the-art facility offers interpretive exhibits and displays of Chickasaw art, culture and history on 109 acres of rolling hills and woodlands adjacent to the cool, clear mineral waters of Chickasaw National Recreation Area. Other attractions in the region include Riverwind Casino, WinStar World Casinos, numerous smaller casinos, Remington Park racetrack, theatres, golf courses, campgrounds and RV parks.