The decades following World War II were rife with change on a global scale, no less so for Native American artists at the University of Oklahoma. For this exhibition we consider the Native art students enrolled at OU from 1946-1954 as the “second generation” of Native artists in the legacy of the University, following in the footsteps of the Kiowa Six. These students came to OU at a time of political, social, and personal transformation. Amid such pressures as the Indian Termination Act, relocation programs, the rise of student civil-rights movements, and eventually the Red Power movement (which has roots at OU), this generation of Native artists made strides toward self-determination. Artists turned to ancestral philosophies of art-making to represent their identity, celebrate heritage, and assert individual artistic agency. During this period Native art was becoming increasingly accepted as “fine art.” Institutions like the Philbrook Indian Annual and various schools and art markets were developing toward Indian self-expression and identification—in part because of the influence of the artists who were trained at OU during the postwar decades. This generation of artists is notable as teachers and leaders, whose resounding influence on the vast field of Native American art is felt to this day.
About the Exhibition
Acee Blue Eagle (Muscogee) "The Prophet" 1939; Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
The exhibition explores the context in which this remarkable group of students came to OU, presents their development as artists, and demonstrates their legacy. Curators for the exhibition include instructor Dr. Alicia Harris and student curators Meagan Anderson, Danielle Fixico, Chris Tallbear, Olivia von Gries, and Nathan Young. This exhibition was made possible with generous support from the Mellon Foundation.