Artists of the Five Tribes explore their shared history in Perspectives, an exhibition on view in Oklahoma City.
Carol Emarthle-Douglas labored nearly four months creating a traditionally coiled basket ringed inside and out with 22 miniature baskets of various styles, made with different weaving techniques and materials, such as hickory, red and yellow cedar bark, black ash, yucca, and pine needles. Her skill and hard work paid off: The basket won Best of Show at 2015’s Santa Fe Indian Market. “It was inspired by women and the burdens they carry,” she says. “They could be carrying firewood or children or vegetables for food. So I called it Cultural Burden. It was a tribute to women and all they do to take care of their families or the tribe or ... even carrying their culture.”
Emarthle-Douglas is one of 10 artists — one male and one female from each of the Five Tribes that were displaced by the Indian Removal Act of 1830 and forced to relocate to Oklahoma Territory — to explore Mississippian Native American culture and their shared history in the exhibition Perspectives, now on view in Oklahoma City. Showcasing their culture and creativity in mediums as diverse as basketry and digital art, painting, and traditional roll dolls are Emarthle-Douglas and Cole Cathey (Seminole), Dana Tiger and Micah Wesley (Muscogee/Creek), Erin Shaw and Dylan Cavin (Choctaw), Sue Fish and Brent Greenwood (Chickasaw), and Virginia Stroud and Daniel HorseChief (Cherokee).
“It’s a vast display of art from an esteemed group of award-winning artists — 10 very unique styles, different perspectives, different backgrounds.”
“It’s a vast display of art from an esteemed group of award-winning artists — 10 very unique styles, different perspectives, different backgrounds,” says Paige Williams Shepherd, Chickasaw Nation director of corporate development and tourism. “We’re very much looking forward to presenting all of this collaboratively in one exhibit and sale.”
Something else to look forward to: HorseChief, widely known for his sculptures, will display only paintings, which he describes as “visual songs that tell a story.” HorseChief sees his art as having a mission: “I think we’re supposed to come together at a higher level — that’s what I’m trying to convey with my painting. Even though a lot of it is Cherokee-themed, I want people to look at it and say, ‘Hey, I can relate to that.’ ”
Perspectives: An Exhibition of Male and Female Artists of the Five Tribes is on view through October 31 at Exhibit C in Bricktown, Oklahoma City.
From the August/September 2018 issue. Photography: Cultural Burden by Carol Emarthle-Douglas, courtesy Exhibit C.