The Norman Transcript

October 27, 2007

The Native American voice in the centennial


OKLAHOMA CITY, OK -- American Indian Artists participate in the Oklahoma Centennial with a provocative exhibit that explores the current reality of American Indian artists in Oklahoma today. This invitational exhibit features new works by more than 60 Native American artists. "Current Realities: A Dialogue with THE PEOPLE," is presented by OklaDADA a collective of American Indian Artists networking and promoting Indigenous perspectives to create opportunities that give voice to Indian cultural identities.

The opening reception, free and open to the public, will be 6-10 p.m. Nov. 9, at Individual Artists of Oklahoma's (IAO) gallery, 811 Broadway Ave., Oklahoma City in Automobile Alley. Spoken word artists will begin 1 p.m. Nov. 10, and at 2 p.m. an artist and community dialogue will commence. The evening events begin at 7 p.m. and include film screenings of six new films.

"We are not in a reactionary mode to the Centennial," Richard Ray Whitman said. "The state is celebrating the past 100 years according to how they understand it and we feel it is essential that one of the many voices during this Centennial include American Indian artists. Everyone wants to have a happy beginning and a happy ending, but exploring history can bring up uncomfortable issues, such as policies of assimilation and acculturation. What oklaDADA hopes to convey is that we are still here and not just in the casino business."

The invitational exhibition will feature members of the oklaDADA group, as well as other contemporary Indian artists who have a relationship to Oklahoma. All of the work included in the exhibit is new work that speaks to the Centennial. The exhibit expresses the dichotomous relationship between tribal communities and the state.

The artist list reads like a who's who list of Native American Artists: Sharron Ahtone Harjo, Tahnee, Ahtone Harjo, Marcus Amerman, Ron Anderson, Annette Arkeketa, Mario Badillo, Marwin Begaye, Dennis Belindo, Jon Belindo, Barry Belindo, Heidi Bigknife, Dan Brook, Nocona Burgess, Quanah Burgess, Cynthia Clay, Kevin Connywerdy, Mel Cornshucker, Carol Cornsilk, Gerald Cournoyer, Chebon Dacon, JK Dowell, Bunky Echohawk, Ron English, Peggy Fontenot, Scott George, Terry Gomez, Shan Goshorn, Buffalo Gouge, Brent Greenwood, Kennetha Greenwood, Crystal Hanna, Ben Harjo Jr. , Suzanne Shown Harjo, Lester Harragarra, Nathan Hart, Lance Henson, Jimmy Horn, Tvli Jacob, Scott Jones, Charley Johnson, Kenneth Johnson, Brent Learned, Cheryl Lockstone, Daniel McCoy, America Meredith, Vicki Monks, Joe Dale Nevaquaya, Aukaboo New Rider, Sallyann Paschall, Carol Pate, Laketa Pratt, Harvey Pratt, Jill Primeaux, Jereldine Redcorn, Scott Roberts, Kimberly Rodriguez, Frank Sheridan, D.G. Smalling, Chris Smith, Jeff Stokes, Ramona TallBear, Dana Tiger, Tony Tiger, Sunrise Tippeconie, Maya Torralba, Deron Twohatchet, Richard Ray Whitman, Nicole Willard, Rhonda Williams, Thompson Williams, Connie Yellowman, Gordon Yellowman, Nathan Young and Albin Zotigh.

Exhibition Sponsors include: Anonymous, Anonymous in memory of Mary Ruth Timberman, of Marwin Begaye, Mary Helen Deer, Shannon Freeman, Linda Giles, Brent and Kennetha Greenwood, Stacey Halfmoon, Heather Ahtone, Betty Ruth Kemp, Sandra Medrano, Vicki Monks, NAFA Capital Markets, Loretta Oden, Lina Ortega,Tim Ramsey, Beth and Peter Shumway, DG Smalling, Shoshana Wasserman, Eva Williams-Yeahquo and David Wilson.

OklaDADA formed in November 2005 as a networking organization with the hope of cultivating a prosperous environment in Oklahoma, so Native artists would no longer feel the need to leave the state to achieve success. The DADA artists during World War II were the first comprehensive group in Western Art History to fully explore the idea of "gesamtkunstwerk," the "whole work of art," including all the senses and recognizing the spiritual nature of creative work. This is relative to how many Indian artists work, recognizing the importance of the spiritual connection and the full encounter of the work and the relevance of the image. The dada reference in the groups name comes from the belief that there is more than one valid perspective. By exploring these varied perspectives, art has the power to investigate, create a dialogue and heal.

"Okladada has the potential of serving a wide range of needs within our community, economically, politically, and culturally. Our native community has survived because of our traditions and cultural strengths. The artists have been a significant part of this survival, not only practicing our traditional arts but providing a vision to our continually evolving identity," said Heather Ahtone.

All events are free and open to the public. The exhibit will continue through Dec. 20.

As this exhibit features all new works by the artists, images for the media will be available after Oct. 30. For more information, call April Mays at 476-8539 or visit, www.myspace.com/currentrealities.