The Norman Transcript


August 31, 2007

Jacobson brought 'Kiowa Five' to world prominence

By David Dary

Oscar Brousse Jacobson was 32 when he moved to Oklahoma to head the School of Fine Arts at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. There he spent the rest of his life focusing world attention on Indian art.

Jacobson’s story began with his birth in Sweden on May 16, 1882. In 1890, whenhe was eight, he came to America with his parents who settled at Lindsborg, Kansas. He graduated from high school and entered Bethany College in Lindsborg. He studied under Birger Sandzen, who became an internationally known artist. Jacobson graduated in 1908.

During the next five years Jacobson taught at Minneapolis College of Art and Design and at the state college of Washington. During the first half of 1915, he studied at the Louvre in Paris. When he returned to the United States, he was hired as director of the School of Art and art museum at the University of Oklahoma in Norman.

Years later he recalled, “There wasn’t much to direct.”

After a year at OU, he took leave and completed a master of fine arts degree at Yale in 1916 and returned to Norman.

Jacobson, who was tall, distinguished and very courteous, designed and built a home in Norman located at 609 Chautauqua Ave. He also began to reshape the academic style of art study at OU with a fresh attitude and the palette of the French moderns.

n the late 1920s, something happened that forever changed Jacobson and the study of art.

Less than 60 miles west of Norman at Anadarko, Sister Olivia Taylor, a Choctaw, began teaching art to Kiowa Indian students at a mission school operated by St. Patrick’s Catholic church.

Susie Peters, a woman working for the Indian agency in Anadarko, saw their art and was impressed/ Peters organized an art club encouraging the students to memorialize the Kiowa culture in their drawings. She sent some of the drawings to Oscar Jacobson at OU in 1926.

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