Winners of the 49th Annual Trail of Tears Art Show and Sale were announced Friday during a virtual awards reception hosted on the Cherokee Heritage Center’s Facebook page.
The show features a variety of authentic Native art with more than 160 items from 95 artists, representing 15 tribal nations.
This year’s grand prize went to Cherokee Nation artist Jerry Sutton for “Cultural Appropriation.” The mixed media piece features Michelangelo's iconic David statue dressed as a precontact Cherokee hunter in an ironic depiction of how European and colonial cultures have appropriated from Indigenous cultures.
"This piece came together so organically. It was truly the art directing the artist," Sutton said. "It is my hope that people will at first be amused by the unexpected juxtaposition of images, and that will then spark deeper conversations about cultural appropriation as contrasted against cultural appreciation. I do not see this as a one-way street with clear lines of delineation. Every culture is influenced by those around it. We can all learn from each other as long as we do so with integrity and respect."
The longest-running American Indian art show in Oklahoma was set to debut in early spring but was delayed due to the COVID-19 global health crisis.
“For nearly 50 years this show has served as a platform for Native artists to share their history and culture,” said Paul Buckner, interim executive director for Cherokee Heritage Center. “While we are unable to host the show and sale in person, we remain fully committed to these artists and hope that the public will join us in celebrating their work in a new and exciting way.”
The 49th annual Trail of Tears Art Show and Sale will be offered to the public in an online platform that includes digital tours, gallery showcases and artist interviews.
“Art shows have been cancelled throughout the country for months, and the impact it will have on the art community will be felt far and wide. It was imperative that we come together to find a way to give these artists the support they both need and deserve,” said Callie Chunestudy, curator for CHC. “We hope that the digital platform will help us reach new audiences who will enjoy getting to know more about the artists, the show and the Cherokee Heritage Center.”
Through the juried show, artists compete for more than $15,000 in the following categories: painting, sculpture, pottery, basketry, graphics, jewelry, miniatures, diverse art forms and photography/digital art. In addition, all work featured in the show is available to purchase.
The following summary highlights the grand prize, first-place and special award winners: Grand prize, Jerry Sutton, Cherokee Nation, “Cultural Appropriation”; Painting, first place, James Andrew Smith, Cherokee Nation, “Everything is a Metaphor”; Sculpture, first place, Joey Study, United Keetoowah Band, “Uktena”; Basketry, first place, Lisa Forrest, Cherokee Nation, “Loops”; Pottery, first place, Troy Jackson, Cherokee National Treasure, “Bird Effigy Pot”; Jewelry, first place, Candessa Tehee, Cherokee National Treasure, “ᎠᏯᏟᏗ ᎠᎴ ᏗᏟᎠᏙ”; Graphics, first place, DeAnn McDaniel, Cherokee Nation, “The Warrior”; Miniature, first place, Norma Howard, Choctaw/Chickasaw, “Choctaw Social Dance”; Trail of Tears Award, Ron Mitchell, Cherokee Nation, “Removal – Topsy Turvy Time”; and Emerging Artists, first place, Joey Study, United Keetoowah Band, “Uktena.”
The 49th annual Trail of Tears Art Show is made possible through the support of Bank of Oklahoma, Cherokee Nation Businesses and Chickasaw Nation.
The Cherokee Heritage Center, 21192 S. Keeler Drive in Park Hill, is the premier cultural center for Cherokee tribal history, culture and the arts.