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Picturing Indian Territory

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Picturing Indian Territory, 1819-1907

October 6–December 30, 2016

Horseman Anadarko

To date, no scholarly examination of the visual history of Oklahoma, or its previous incarnations as Indian and Oklahoma Territories, exists. The unique socio-political history of the territories as a diaspora for displaced Native American tribes prevented American artists from seeking residence or even an extended sojourn. Yet, the nineteenth-century fascination with Native cultures and the ‘undiscovered’ frontiers of North America did encourage numerous artists to depict the cultures and spaces of the territories. Picturing Indian Territory will survey how the people, land and history of Oklahoma were constructed visually by artists, illustrators and journalists from the early decades of the nineteenth century before and after the creation of Indian Territory in 1834; to the inception of Oklahoma Territory in 1890; and finally to the unification of Indian and Oklahoma Territories to create the state of Oklahoma in 1907.

Numerous states have organized exhibitions celebrating their resident artists and their respective art histories, but Picturing Indian Territory differs by examining how artists who were mostly outsiders and non-residents interpreted the territories and how their imagery influenced the popular imagination. In this regard, the exhibition will focus on images of Oklahoma by non-Native artists who visited but did not settle.  The checklist contains paintings by notable artists such as George Catlin, Frederic Remington, and John Mix Stanley; drawings by artists such as James Wells Champney and Balduin Mollhausen, who helped to explore Indian Territory; and important ephemera from the nineteenth century that helped to define Indian and Oklahoma Territories pictorially.

Picturing Indian Territory promises to be the critical exploration of the art and visual culture of Oklahoma and will encourage future study in this area. The exhibition will be accompanied by a book authored by exhibition curators Byron Price, director of the Charles M. Russell Center for the Study of Art of the American West; James Peck, director of the Old Jail Art Center; and Mark White, the Wylodean and Bill Saxon Director of the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art and published by the University of Oklahoma Press in conjunction with the Charles M. Russell Center for the Study of Art of the American West.

Read the press release here.

Off-Site: Picturing Indian Territory, 1819-1907

“Off-Site” is a video mini-series featuring Dr. Mark White, the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art’s Wylodean and Bill Saxon Director and exhibition co-curator of Picturing Indian Territory: 1819-1907, an exhibition on display Oct. 6-Dec. 30, 2016, at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma.
“Off-Site” aims to connect viewers to the rich history of Indian and Oklahoma territories in several episodes that feature artworks and images from the exhibition, while also highlighting significant historical figures, places, and events that shaped the history of Oklahoma.

iTunes U Course

Off-Site is accompanied by a complimentary iTunes U course exploring the key historical events and sites through the artworks that helped define Oklahoma from the 19th to the early 20th century. The course is best viewed via an iOS device.

Off-Site: Introduction

In this introductory video, “Off-Site: Introduction,” we visit with our collaborative partners who helped shape "Picturing Indian Territory." Dr. B. Byron Price, the Director of the Charles M. Russell center at the University of Oklahoma, speaks about his role as co-curator of the exhibition. Dr. Bob Blackburn, the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Historical Society, explains how works on loan from his organization bring the story of Oklahoma to life.

Off-Site: Surveying the Territory, Pt. I

In Surveying the Territory, Part I, we learn how the first cultural and geographic records were made by artists and explorers. We also see how the American military established an ongoing presence in Indian Territory with strategic forts, including Fort Sill, that attracted artists who worked to document tribal cultures.

Off-Site: Surveying the Territory, Pt. II

In Surveying the Territory, Part II, we look closely at one of the most important military installations in Indian Territory: Fort Washita. This fort played a pivotal role during the Mexican-American War and the Civil War and served as a stop for westward-bound migrants on their way to California. We will look at images that represent the fort’s history and surrounding events.

Off-Site: Indian Territory in the Reconstruction

The next episode, Indian Territory in the Reconstruction, details the massacre at Black Kettle’s camp in 1868, while also exploring journalistic and artistic responses to the attack.

Off-Site: Boomer and Sooners

In the final episode, Boomers and Sooners, we learn about the important part Pawnee Bill had in shaping the vision of the frontier and his role as the leader of the boomers during the first Land Run.


Opening Reception
Thursday, Oct. 6
7 p.m.: Public Opening Lecture
Mary Eddy and Fred Jones Auditorium

Join us for an opening lecture by B. Byron Price, director of the Charles M. Russell Center and the University of Oklahoma Press, as he examines multiple visions of Indian Territory and its people as presented by artists and illustrators during 1819-1907, as well as the role of the imagination in their presentations.

8 p.m.: Public Opening Reception
Sandy Bell Gallery

Following the lecture, enjoy a public reception with light hors d’oeuvres, cash bar, and the opportunity to explore the exhibition!

10 a.m., Thursday, Nov. 3

Mary Eddy and Fred Jones Auditorium

This day symposium explores the rich and often complicated history of the Indian and Oklahoma Territories, from the tragedy of Indian removal to the calls for the settlement of Oklahoma.

Sterling Evans
, Louise Welsh Chair, Department of History, University of Oklahoma
Clara Sue Kidwell (White Earth Chippewa/Choctaw), former Director of the American Indian Center, University of North Carolina
Bob L. Blackburn, Executive Director, Oklahoma Historical Society
Dan Flores, Professor Emeritus, University of Montana

Night at the Museum
6 p.m., Friday, Nov. 4
Picturing Indian Territory comes to life in this fun, family-friendly event with crafts, rope-twirling, and historic re-enactors.

Building Guthrie: A Museum Meet-Up
1 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 5
Guthrie, Oklahoma

Explore the eastern-European influenced architecture of Oklahoma Territory’s historic capital with Associate Professor Ron Frantz. This event will take place in Guthrie, Oklahoma. Transportation will not be provided; please meet at the northwest corner of Harrison Avenue and Division Street to begin the walking tour.

Read the press release for the Symposium, Night at the Museum, and the Guthrie Museum Meet-Up here.

Family Day
1-4 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 20

Explore art in the museum's permanent collection and temporary exhibitions, and enjoy a variety of hands-on art activities for the entire family. Travel back in time to the century before Oklahoma statehood through the special exhibition Picturing Indian Territory

Julian Scott (U.S. 1846-1901)
Horseman, Anadarko, Oklahoma (Chief Ahpeahtone)
, 1890
Courtesy of private collection