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Cherokee Heritage Center showcase

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TAHLEQUAH, Okla. - The Cherokee Heritage will present the Cherokee Artists Showcase exhibit from Feb. 1 - April 20. The showcase has been designed to show the wide range of styles and disciplines that have been used by the Cherokee people from pre-history to today, drawing from mediums as diverse as basketry to photography. Artists in the exhibition include Peggy Brannan (basketry), Tom Fields (photography), Yatika Fields (painting), Tonia Hogner-Weavel (textiles/ clothing), Sharon Irla (painting), Jerry Kykisz (photography/poetry), America Meredith (painting), Ed Rackleff (sculpture/painting), Kevin Smith (painting), and P.J. Gilliam Stewart (ceramics). The opening will be held at 1 p.m. on Feb. 1 with a live performance by 2002 NAMMY Flutist of the Year Tommy Wildcat.

The Center's curator, Robert Lealand, was in the final process of hanging the show when he spoke to Indian Country Today. One of his major goals is to include art that pushes the boundaries of what the Heritage Center has shown in the past. "I'm trying to show an array of works from traditional to contemporary," Lealand said. "I think people will be surprised to see some of the works in the exhibition and they will get a different picture of Native American art. We have 10 artists in the show and Tommy Wildcat will be on hand to play traditional flute at the opening, he'll be the eleventh artist. We expect to have 100 pieces in the show."

Part of the concept was also to show the many different mediums of Native art. Leland said he was pleasantly surprised at how the different artists' pieces complimented each other. "Primarily I tried to envision a timeline of Cherokee art and I tried to cover everything without telling the artists that was what I was trying to do, and it really worked out that way, so that we have both traditional and contemporary works. You can see that there are still Native influences in all their works, regardless of whether or not they are doing traditional Cherokee art. I knew Ed Rackleff and Kevin Smith, and some of the other artists, so I had an idea of some of the types of works that they did, but I wanted to emphasize that the canvas was open, I wanted to see all of their styles up at the exhibition, not just one style. That is going to give us a different type of show than what we have had at the center. A lot of people still think the Dorothy Dunn style (the flat style) is the only style Native Americans have and I'm trying to show that's not the case. With these artists people will see that they quite an array of Native artists that have grown as artists just like any other artists."

Chief W.W. Keeler established the Cherokee National Historical Society, Inc. in 1963. The Society is committed to the preservation of the history and culture of the Cherokee and the education of all people. The Society fulfills its mission by operating the Cherokee Heritage Center on 44 acres in Park Hill, Okla. The Center includes the 1,500-seat capacity Tsa-La-Gi (pronounced jah-lah-gee) outdoor amphitheater, Tsa-La-Gi Ancient Village, Adams Corner Rural Village and Farm, and the Cherokee National Museum. The museum has both permanent and temporary exhibits, including the annual Trail of Tears Art Show. The Cherokee National Archives (the legal depository of Cherokee Nation documents) located in the museum includes an ever-increasing collection of important Cherokee historical records, photographs, and documents. The genealogical library offers research services. The museum shop provides books, publications, and the work of Cherokee artists and craftspeople. The general store in Adams Corner carries clay, buckbrush and other natural materials used in the creation of traditional arts. For more information, visit cherokeeheritage.org.

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