TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Winners of the 25th annual Cherokee Homecoming Art Show were announced Friday during a virtual awards ceremony hosted on the Cherokee Heritage Center’s Facebook page.
The virtual show and sale runs through Sept. 19, as CHC remains closed to the public during the COVID-19 health crisis.
Cherokee Nation citizen Jennifer Thiessen was awarded the grand prize for her dress “Oklahoma Sisters,” which pays tribute to missing and murdered Indigenous women.
The dress showcases the names of Native women who have been murdered from all over the U.S. and Canada, going back to 1900. Each section includes the woman's name, age at death and year her body was found. The coordinated sash brings attention to the ongoing MMIW crisis by featuring the names of the women who have gone missing within the past year in Oklahoma.
“During my research, it really hit me how devalued our ancestors’ lives were,” Thiessen said. “This is an important issue still today, and we must all do our part to raise awareness about this injustice. While I’m somewhat new to sewing, I’ve been involved with art my entire life and felt this was the right time to bring this topic to a new platform.”
The annual show and sale runs through Sept. 19 and showcases 81 pieces by 52 artists. Five Cherokee National Treasures are featured in the show, including Candessa Tehee, Eddie Morrison, Noel Grayson, Tonia Hogner-Weavel and Troy Jackson.
“The talent at this show is remarkable, and I’ve really enjoyed being part of the Cherokee art community. It’s even more special to me as I share this passion with my 12-year-old daughter, who participates in shows herself,” Thiessen said. “I am honored and humbled by this recognition and hope it inspires my daughter, and other young artists, by demonstrating how powerful art can be when you combine your culture, history and passion to encourage activism for those issues that our tribal communities continue to face.”
Participating artists competed for a share of more than $16,000 in prize money within two divisions: traditional and contemporary.
The traditional division is defined as “arts originating before European contact” and consists of three categories: basketry, pottery and traditional arts.
The contemporary division is defined as “arts arising among the Cherokee after European contact” and consists of seven categories: paintings, sculpture, pottery, basketry, beadwork, jewelry and textiles.
“We’re pleased to be able to continue to host these shows in a virtual platform in an effort to foster and promote Cherokee artwork,” said Callie Chunestudy, curator for CHC. “While our doors remain closed to the public at this time, we’ve been able to focus on ways to provide new and exciting content online that showcases these artists and their talents. As we celebrate the quarter-century anniversary of this show, we couldn’t be prouder to see the grand prize go to such an impactful piece that addresses such an important issue in Indian Country.”
First-place winners in each category are as follows:
Traditional Arts: Noel Grayson, “Go Ask Grandpa”
Contemporary Pottery: Jennie Wilson, “The Cat Pair of Mugs”
Contemporary Basketry: Vicki Coppedge, “Riding the Waves”
Visual Arts: Robin Stockton, “Jistu (Rabbit) Senses an Old Danger”
Sculpture: Ernie Lee Poindexter, “Fish”
Beadwork: Carolyn Pallett, “Woodland Blues”
Textiles: Candessa Tehee, “Gosdaya Adadlosd ᎪᏍᏓᏯ ᎠᏓᏠᏍᏗ”
Jewelry: Toneh Chuleewah, “Lodge Boy and Thrown Away, the Hero Twins”
Other special awards include the following:
Emerging Artist Award: Ray Commiato, “Cherokee Eye”
Bill Rabbit Legacy Award: Keli Gonzales, “ᎣᏓᎵᎦᎵ”
For a complete list of awardees and to access the digital show, please visit the CHC Facebook page at www.facebook.com/cherokeehc. All artwork is available for sale, and the public is encouraged to vote for the People’s Choice Award.
The 25th annual Cherokee Homecoming Art Show is made possible through the generous support of Cherokee Nation Businesses and Rabbit Studios.
The Cherokee Heritage Center is the premier cultural center for Cherokee tribal history, culture and the arts. It is located at 21192 S. Keeler Drive, Park Hill, Oklahoma.