This year’s featured artist is Kimberly Greene-Bugg, Oneida Six Nations, of Hornbeak, Tenn.
GLENPOOL, Okla. – When the first Tulsa Indian Art Festival opened in 1987, organizers worked to create a showcase for Oklahoma’s Indian artists. Twenty-seven years later, the annual festival returns with a grander focus – support for and fostering of artists of the future.
Robert Trepp, chairman of the board of the National Indian Monument and Institute, said just as today’s artists need opportunities to fulfill their work, students of art also need support and encouragement to help them flourish and reach their creative goals.
“Regardless of grade level, we want to show students there are still opportunities for them to express themselves through various art media whether they see it as full-time employment or as something to pursue in their spare time.
The National Indian Monument and Institute, or NIMI, is the parent organization of the Tulsa Indian Art Festival as well as the American Indian Theatre Company.
The 27th Annual Tulsa Indian Art Festival will be Feb. 8-10 at the Glenpool Conference Center, located off of U.S. 75 and 121st Street South in Glenpool. The festival opens with the art market opening at 11 a.m. Feb. 8. The schedule includes flute playing at noon followed by exhibition dancing and storytelling with Mahenwahdose (part of the American Indian Theatre Company). The art market closes at 4 p.m. The big premiere night celebration begins at 7 p.m. and includes dinner, the juried art awards, scholarship awards and silent and live auction of art objects. Proceeds benefit TIAF’s scholarship fund for art students. Admission is a $35 donation (reservation required). Corporate sponsorships are also available and include reserved tables. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation Honor Guard will present and retire the colors. Also scheduled to attend are Miss Indian Oklahoma Brittany Hill, Pawnee Nation Princess Hope Harjo and Tulsa Indian Club Princess Erica Moore.
The festival continues Feb. 9 and 10 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. each day with more exhibition dancing, music and storytelling. Food concessions will be provided by Native- and locally-owned Autumn Star Catering, which specializes in Native foods such as meat pies, fry bread, grape dumplings, posole stew (spicy stewed pork and white hominy), venison roast and more. At the art market, look for Autumn Star to serve Indian tacos with ground buffalo meat, “Spirit Soup,” baked sweet potatoes and roast turkey with green beans and new potatoes among the menu items.
Approximately 50 artists are anticipated to appear at the art market with booths set up in the conference center and many with pieces entered in the juried show competition. This year’s featured artist is Kimberly Greene-Bugg, Oneida Six Nations, of Hornbeak, Tenn. Greene-Bugg won the People’s Choice Award at the 2012 Tulsa Indian Art Festival for a beaded backpack she titled “Ascending” and created in the style of the Lakota tribe. She was also winner of the Best New Artist Award, the winner chosen by the artists at the market, not by the jury.
Her traditional work titled Haudenosaunee Family (or Long House Family) is this year’s featured piece – two dolls representing a woman holding an infant daughter and a young girl. The theme of family and community runs through the piece to share how women form strong bonds in their community, and how, traditionally, clan mothers of the Oneida and other Six Nations from the Iroquois Confederacy were consulted in important matters of war and treaties.
Haudenosaunee Family has been donated by the artist for the auction during the Feb. 8 premiere night event.
Greene-Bugg, who has been an artist all her life, said she takes her inspiration and style from other artists and from many tribes.
“Mine (her approach) is multicultural with Native American art because I wasn’t brought up on the reservation, and the people – the artist that took me under their wing, per se – were not just Iroquois people. They were Kiowa, Lakota, Cherokee. That’s one of the main reasons I did the back pack, to pay tribute to the Lakota,” Greene-Bugg said. “… I’m always looking for new places to go, explore and get inspiration from other artists. Us artists, we like to stick together.”
She’s also looking forward to returning to Tulsa for the upcoming art festival and visiting with artists there.
“They were phenomenal. Some of the leading artists in the country were there. A lot (of them) I had seen (their work) before in New York and Washington, D.C. … It’s always a joy to find new artists and know what their take is on tribal culture.”
Trepp said the festival has reached out to other young artists through area high schools, colleges and universities to encourage them to enter work in the show in a variety of categories such as mixed media, drawing, sculpture and more traditional media such as pottery and weaving.
Fine arts and traditional arts blend into a fascinating mix at one show that continues to draw both established and rising artists of the highest caliber and of the style of the woodland and southeastern tribes.
“We’ve really had an impact on other art festivals around us,” Trepp said. “We were the first art festival to really highlight the arts of the Eastern woodlands, especially the Southeastern Indians,” he said.
Just as Taos and Santa Fe are renowned for art markets specializing in the art of Southwestern tribes, the Tulsa festival is synonymous with woodland motifs and expressions of the tribes who called the southeastern section of the U.S. – and later Indian Territory – home.
There’s something for everyone at this year’s show, Trepp said.
“There’s no reason for anyone to think that they are unwelcome because their budget doesn’t allow for them to buy some massive piece of art,” he said.
Learn more about the festival at www.tulsaindianartfestival.com or call (918) 298-2300.
Kimberly Greene-Bugg, Oneida Six Nations, is this year’s featured artist. Greene-Bugg won the People’s Choice Award at the 2012 Tulsa Indian Art Festival for this beaded backpack done in the Lakota style.