An exhibit of multimedia pieces by seven members of the Southeastern Indian Artists Association is on display in the lobby area of Mullins Library in celebration of Native American Heritage Month. These award-winning artists use their work to explore the complex relationships that exist between language, identity, culture and myth.
Tony Tiger is a member of the Sac and Fox Tribe of Oklahoma. He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Oklahoma State University at Stillwater and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Oklahoma. He currently serves as the director of art at Bacone College in Muskogee, Okla. Tiger embeds family photos and images in his art that reflect his personal and ancestral history.
Jeff Edwards is a Cherokee artist and language activist who has worked for the Cherokee Nation for more than 10 years. He attended Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kan., and is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in graphic design at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Okla. He uses modern electronic tools to express traditional cultural concepts. Edwards works with fellow artists Roy Boney Jr. and Joseph Erb to bring the Cherokee language into the global spotlight and make it accessible through digital media devices.
Boney is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation in Tahlequah, and an artist, filmmaker and digital media specialist. He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in graphic design from Oklahoma State University and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He currently works at the Language Technology Program for the Cherokee Nation. Boney incorporates pencil, digital, paint and mixed media in his work. His art focuses on how the Cherokee language and culture interact with modernity. Boney combines Cherokee images, themes, and language to confront the mysterious aspects of Cherokee mythology.
Joseph Erb is a Cherokee filmmaker, artist and digital media specialist. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Oklahoma City University. He produced the first short animated film based on a traditional Cherokee story in the Cherokee language as his MFA thesis at the University of Pennsylvania. Erb returned to Oklahoma where he continues to use the Cherokee language, animation and traditional mediums to create art.
Sharon Irla is a self-taught Cherokee artist whose body of work spans the fields of painting, murals, graphics, photography and picture frame design. Her work is inspired by the genuine beauty and strength of indigenous women, the preservation of indigenous culture, and the power of creativity to affect our environment — all of which are symbolically interwoven in her award-winning painting, Necessity is the Mother.
A native Oklahoman, Cherokee artist Troy Jackson received an Associate of Arts degree from Bacone College, a Bachelor of Arts from Northeastern State University, and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Arkansas. Jackson’s education provided him with diverse experiences and opportunities that he applies to his art. His hand-built and wheel-thrown sculptures signify a Southeastern motif that also reflects Asian and European influences.
After an early career as a musician and recording studio owner, Muscogee (Creek) artist and designer Bobby C. Martin decided to pursue visual art. He earned a Bachelor of Arts from Northeastern State University and a Master of Fine Arts in printmaking from the University of Arkansas. While at the University of Arkansas, Martin was awarded a Professional Development Fellowship from the College Art Association. He teaches printmaking and studio art foundations courses as an associate professor of visual arts at John Brown University in Siloam Springs. Martin’s artwork is exhibited and collected internationally. His most recent work, entitled “Back in the Day,” is featured in a solo exhibition at the Oklahoma State Capitol.
The Southeastern Indian Artists Association is devoted to promoting the arts and artists of tribal peoples. While the name of the group is specifically tied to the Southeastern tribes of Cherokees, Creeks, Choctaws, Chickasaws and Seminoles, the association seeks to include artists of all tribal affiliations. Formerly known as the Cherokee Artists Association, the newly reorganized Southeastern Indian Artists Association seeks to empower and encourage artists and craftspeople in the development of their artistic careers through meetings, workshops, and exhibition opportunities.