Contemporary Chickasaw art exhibition opens June 7 at OU.

The Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art on the University of Oklahoma Norman campus serves as the first venue for a new traveling exhibition of fresh Native American artwork called Visual Voices: Contemporary Chickasaw Art. Featuring more than five dozen works by more than a dozen emerging Chickasaw artists, the show runs June 7 through September 9 then travels in 2019 to the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson and the Institute of American Indian Arts Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in Santa Fe.

Bill Hensley (U.S., Chickasaw, b. 1978)
Young Chickasaw Man, 2014
Acrylic on canvas, 60 x 48 in.
Loan courtesy of Capital Assets, Inc.

The included artists helped to develop the exhibition and organized it loosely around themes they consider central to contemporary Chickasaw life, such as Chickasaw history, traditional beliefs and designs, and issues of identity, both personal and cultural.

“[The exhibition] offers celebratory and mysterious, thought-provoking and critical two-dimensional and three-dimensional works, including abstract and experimental contemporary Chickasaw art,” says exhibition curator Manuela Well-Off-Man.

Erin Shaw (U.S., Chickasaw, b. 1975)
The Lore I Found [detail], 2017
Acrylic on canvas-mounted panel, 2 panels, 48 in. x 60 in. each
Loan courtesy of the artist
According to Well-Off-Man, the artworks analyze the complex relationship between contemporary Chickasaw life and rich tribal history and culture with each artist demonstrating a personal approach. Many of the artists are inspired by traditional Chickasaw elements of design and render them using contemporary materials and aesthetics to create an innovative visual language. Others investigate tribal stories, belief systems or family histories and traditions, and how these relate to present-day Chickasaw life.

“From oil and watercolor to textiles and metals, glass, bronze, and other materials, the artworks of 15 featured Chickasaw artists in this exhibition are unique, intrinsically Southeastern and distinctive in design among today’s contemporary tribal artists,” Well-Off-Man says.

Brent Greenwood (U.S., Chickasaw/Ponca, b. 1971)
Gathering Medicine, 2017
Acrylic on canvas, 40 in. x 30 in.
Loan courtesy of the artist

Visual Voices: Contemporary Chickasaw Art is on view June 7 – September 9 at The Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art on the University of Oklahoma Norman campus. For more information about the exhibition, click here; for the traveling exhibition, click here.

Erin Shaw (U.S., Chickasaw, b. 1975)
Dinosaur, 2017
Acrylic on canvas, 24.25 x 24.25 in.
Loan courtesy of the artist

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