While the title “Our Inheritance” may not initially evoke thoughts of nature, this new exhibition at Exhibit C Gallery in Bricktown (running through Oct. 31) beautifully intertwines the two, honoring the intrinsic bond between nature and First American culture. It’s a theme that holds great significance for the four featured artists, who deeply treasure this connection.
“This exhibition is a tribute to the landscape’s vital role in First American heritage,” said Paige Williams Shepherd, director of tourism for the Chickasaw Nation.
“Each artist’s personal interpretation comes alive, and it is powerful to see.”
One of those interpretations of nature and heritage comes from artist and Potawatomi citizen Peter Paul Bruno, who stated: “As a Native American artist, I am deeply inspired by the beauty and complexity of my cultural heritage. Through my art, I seek to explore the intricate relationships between the land, the people and the spirit world.”
In his large-scale oil painting titled “Shaman Dreams #1,” vibrant blues and yellows of sky and land are inspired by his time growing up on the Navajo reservation.
“I like to use bold brushstrokes, vivid colors and elaborate details to capture the vibrancy, energy and richness of Native American stories and traditions,” he said.
Oklahoma City resident Alexandra Brodt will display her “Dreamscapes” series of illustrations, a colorful and explorative approach to nature inspired by her actual dreams.
“It feels like a story, something I’m searching to piece together and tell. Elements from Native stories are big, imaginative and magical, and I can feel those qualities resonating in these pieces,” Alexandra said.
Western Shoshone native Topaz Jones McCoy started oil painting at just 10 years old. She uses symbolism and surrealism to showcase a contemporary view of nature. For her, First American heritage is a constant source of motivation for creativity.
“They are infused with my multicultural identity, which is important for me to capture and express because I believe that exploring self-identity sets artists apart. Introspection can create unique stories and images that can’t be replicated or appropriated because they are solely my experience,” she said.
Brent Brander, a Chickasaw citizen, keeps his heritage alive through art.
“Through my paintings, I aim to capture the vast beauty, complexity and diversity of the landscapes that surround us,” he said. “Every landscape has its own unique spirit and energy, and it is my goal to capture and convey these qualities to the viewer through my art.”
At its basic roots, nature is a feature of life that evokes all five senses. The beauty of the sunset, the feeling of cool, crisp air, the sound of firewood burning and the taste of the vegetables we eat are all a reminder that nature is what encompasses everyone and inspires all of us. And for these artists, it’s also a way to keep their heritage alive.
Proudly owned by the Chickasaw Nation, Exhibit C Gallery is located at 1 E. Sheridan Avenue in Bricktown, Oklahoma City.
FMI visit ExhibitCGallery.com.