Chickasaw Country Art Exhibit Brings Female Warriors To The Forefront

Chickasaw Country Art Exhibit Brings Female Warriors To The Forefront

An art gallery in Oklahoma City is showing the work of three Native American females whose work shares a common focus – the power of women.

Held at Exhibit C Gallery, “Women Warriors” opens Thursday, July 1 and runs through October 31.  With pieces by Shelby Rowe, Kindra Swafford and Karin Walkingstick, the collective showing will feature their diverse artistic skills spanning from beading to watercolor painting to pottery.

While their artistic mastery is diverse, they all have one thing in common: they showcase the power of the warrior women of their nations,” said Paige Williams Shepherd, Chickasaw Nation’s director of corporate development and tourism, in a media release.

For this exhibit, these three participating artists have drawn upon influences within their personal lives and from First American artwork in developing their displayed works.

Rowe’s beading is described an expression of mending brokenness. Swafford’s colorful and playful watercolors are said to be inspired by pop culture and Walkingstick’s pottery is noted as reflecting her Cherokee culture and background.

According to Shepherd, these female artists were chosen for the gallery’s “Women Warriors” exhibit due to their respective accomplishments “and fierce creativity” within their respective art fields.

“In a world where women are constantly breaking glass ceilings and leading boldly, this exhibit was designed as a way to honor First American women and their warrior-like triumphs,” said Shepherd. “The Women Warriors’ exhibit celebrates First American female artists and provides them a platform to reach others and receive recognition within Oklahoma City and Chickasaw Country.”

A Cherokee potter from Claremore, Okla., Karin Walkingstick’s passion for art began at an early age. Since her introduction to clay in 2013, Walkingstick has committed her time exclusively to creating one-of-a-kind works of pottery using techniques that echo her Cherokee culture.

Walkingstick also participates in Native American art markets including the Santa Fe Indian Market, the Heard Museum Indian Fair and Market in Phoenix and Cherokee Art Market in Tulsa.

A citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, Shelby Rowe is an inspirational speaker and nationally recognized suicide prevention expert, and mother of three sons. Recently, Rowe’s piece “21st Century Hatchet Woman” has received both the People’s Choice Award and a Judge’s Award at the 2020 Southeast Art Show & Market (SEASAM) and was also featured in the exhibit “Stitched in Sovereignty” at the Couse-Sharp Historic Site.

In 2019, her piece “Auntie Deb,” a beaded cuff bracelet featuring a portrait of the U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland was added to the permanent collection of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. 

From doodling as a child to finding guidance from teachers in Salina, Okla., Kindra Swafford honed her craft in Northeastern State University’s art program.

A citizen of the Cherokee Nation, Kindra drew her early inspirations from pop cultur, from Jim Lee’s comic work to Disney movies and video games. Her art retains the exuberance of that early passion in her vivid colors and playful compositions, particularly in watercolor; she finds herself increasingly drawn to this medium.

A First American art gallery, Exhibit C Gallery is located in the Bricktown neighborhood in downtown Oklahoma City. It displays works by artists from the Chickasaw and southeastern tribes, along with artists from across Indian Country. For more information, visit the gallery’s website.

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