Artist: Tony Tiger

Who We Are

The Oklahoma Oral History Research Program (OOHRP) of the Oklahoma State University Library is committed to documenting and making accessible to the public the history and cultures of Oklahoma and its people. In 2010, OOHRP began recording and archiving first-person interviews about Native art in our state: the Oklahoma Native Artists series (ONA).

This collection features enrolled citizens of numerous tribal nations throughout Oklahoma. Also included are first-person accounts from self-identified Native artists of Native ancestry. The complex history of Indian Territory, the passage of the 1990 Indian Arts and Crafts Act and current state legislation regulating who may market their work as a Native American artist are part of this story. Interviews are not restricted to artists, either. Oral histories of Native art gallery owners, festival organizers and collectors may also be found here. Taken together, they add additional context to the stories of artists, underlining their cultural and economic contributions to our state.

ONA artists work in a range of media from painting to fashion design; installation art to bowmaking. They answer questions about their family and tribal backgrounds, schooling, business strategies, shows and awards, creative process, subject matter and techniques. We define Native art as work informed by its creators’ tribal/cultural heritages as well as her or his unique personality and experiences.

Oklahoma Native art can educate and uplift or challenge and subvert, but in almost every case, it has a transformative effect upon artists and their audiences. Whether working mainly within Native communities or flying to international art shows around the world, the sheer number and diversity of Oklahoma’s Native artists make them a force to be reckoned with.

Native Artist Stories
Oklahoma’s Native artists communicate through form, color, texture, materials, designs and images. Their goals in creating are varied as their backgrounds. Yet regardless of their differing approaches and media, hearing their stories often leads to a better understanding of their achievements and a richer encounter with their art.

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