Tahlequah Daily Press

October 1, 2013

Humor inspires Chunestudy to create

Special Writer

TAHLEQUAH — For artist Callie Chunestudy, family support was always something she could count on.

“I think my younger years in southern California, going to fine art museums and the ballet with my grandma exposed me to the more classical arts, and my dad and living in the Cherokee Nation as an adolescent gave me the love for traditional arts and crafts,” Chunestudy said.

Now she attempts to cohesively meld the two through her artistic expression, she said.

‘I really can’t pick a certain artist or teacher who encouraged me, they were really all so great,” she said. “I tend to find something to appreciate in all things so it is hard to pick, but at the risk of sounding trite, I do have to say that my parents never discouraged me from it, even though it might not be the most lucrative calling. They are both creative people and I think that is a big factor in what makes me creative.”

Chunestudy, a cultural specialist at the Cherokee Arts Center and Spider Gallery, enjoys her work assisting artists and making sales for them.

Getting to know local artists is one of her favorite aspects of the job.

“I enjoy getting to spend time with all of the artists that come and being in the thick of it, and I get to see all the creativity and inspiration that abounds,” she said. “Oh, and paying the artists. I don’t actually pay them myself, but when we sell pieces in the gallery I get to do the paperwork that gets them paid. That makes me feel awesome and excited for them.”

Art found her in high school.

In 1995 Chunestudy moved to Teresita with her family, when she was 13. She went to Oaks Mission High School graduating with the class of ‘99.

“Working in Tahlequah and attending NSU was a natural transition for me after high school,” she said. “After traveling a bit and attending college in Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo., for a couple of years I decided to come back to finish my degree. I ended up meeting my husband and settling here, and can’t imagine living anywhere else now.”

She gradated from NSU in 2006.

Humor inspires her, she said.

“A better question might be, what doesn’t inspire me? But if I had to choose, I’d say that I really appreciate humor in art. Comics inspire me, although that isn’t a medium I’ve ever worked in,” she said. “A few other things that inspire me would be great smells – like potting soil and rain, the stark ugliness and sadness of something dead, or the grace of a classical dancer. In truth, the world and all that is in it is inspiring.”

Presently, she’s painting and sculpting clay, but enjoys most media.

“Ideas can translate across media in really cool ways. Art is fun that way!” Chunestudy said.

“In painting, I prefer the abstract and surreal. In sculpture I like more minimal, amorphous silhouettes, but am pondering an effigy series, so we’ll see how that goes.”

She prefers painting shapes more than subjects, and concentrating on negative space and relating it to color, but this mixing can often create a subject for the piece.

“I am also in the planning stages something done more realistically, so, new avenues all the way around right for me,” she said.

Although she’s been in a few juried shows and had a few honorable mentions, she really hasn’t competed all that much, but is seriously gearing up to change that, putting her sights on the Trail of Tears show at the Cherokee Heritage Center this spring.