On the wall, a subtle scene plays out. A calm and focused First American woman sits on the ground, a basket nestled in her lap, as she and two children pull wild onions from the ground.
Painted by Chickasaw/Choctaw artist Norma Howard, the painting may seem straightforward, but its depth paints layers of the gathering process.
Opened this March and running through June 30, the exhibit “As We Gather: Plants and Foods of Our Land” explores the unique heritage of the five First American artists at Exhibit C Gallery.
Exhibit C Gallery is Oklahoma City’s premier First American art gallery located in Bricktown. The gallery itself celebrates the artistic work of Chickasaw and southeastern First American artists and Native artists from across the United States.
The new exhibition features artists Brent Greenwood (Chickasaw/Ponca), Johnnie Lee Diacon (Mvskoke (Creek), Howard, Cherokee basket weaver Risi Thelander and Cherokee basket weaver Rose Drake.
“We partnered with five First American artists, and they presented their interpretation of the theme of the show.” said Paige Shepherd, director of corporate development and tourism for the Chickasaw Nation.
“What's important for Exhibit C when we partner with First American artists is that we do not dictate the artistic perspective and the artistic lens that they are providing per each show. We love when we get all of the artwork together and see the various applications of how the artists have interpreted the show's theme and the title.”
“As We Gather: Plants and Foods of Our Land” displays dynamic and vibrant works of art in different mediums. One of the artists, Brent Greenwood, said various artists have helped shape his perspective as a Chickasaw/Ponca artist, and he lets the southeastern Mississippi culture and the drum and spirit of his culture guide his art.
“We are blessed with tremendous First American artists that represent various tribes and different geographical regions of the United States. They bring their unique perspective from the cultural lens of their tribe and their experiences,” said Paige. “That is displayed and showcased in every show that Exhibit C has curated and is celebrated in, ‘As We Gather.’”
Exhibit C Gallery aims to work with any First American artist who wants to display their work, and to promote, showcase and highlight the work of First American artists.
For visitors in Oklahoma City for the first time or locals who have lived here for some time, the gallery acts as a way to expose the public to First American artists..
“With Exhibit C Gallery’s proximity to the new convention center, Scissortail Park and the Omni Hotel, we get a lot of people who may be here for a conference or convention,” said Paige. “It is our opportunity to give visitors this lens of the fabric of Oklahoma that's so important. We encourage them to take a piece of authentic artwork home with them or a souvenir that represents the First American culture in Oklahoma.”
In addition to the featured exhibit, the gallery showcases numerous other First American artists and is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 1 E. Sheridan. All art and retail located in Exhibit C Gallery are for purchase.
“We are a nationally renowned First American gallery that premieres artwork by First American artists from all over the United States,” Paige said.
“Our artwork comes from artists across the United States, and we're proud to showcase their works.”