Sculptor Troy Jackson took home the grand prize of $1,100 at the Cherokee Homecoming Art Show, which opened August 13 in Park Hill, Oklahoma. In all, $15,000 in prize money was awarded to the winners in ten categories.
The event is open to artists from all three federally recognized Cherokee Tribes: The Cherokee Nation, United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians and Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. "This year, I’m very proud to say, is the largest Homecoming Art Show ever. We had 81 artists submit 162 pieces … and they are all Cherokee,” Cherokee Heritage Center Executive Director Carey Tilley said, as reported in the Cherokee Phoenix.
Jackson's sculpture, "Halfbreed: Am I Red and White or Am I White and Red," is about the question of identity many Indians face due to racial intermixture. "I am both white and Native American," Jackson said, "and so I struggle with it in different areas. Sometimes I feel like I’m white and sometimes I feel like I’m Native American."
For Jackson, it was the second big prize in what is shaping up to be a remarkable year. In April, he won the grand prize in the Trail of Tears Art Show, also held at the Cherokee Heritage Center, for his sculpture "Putting the Pieces Together." Jackson is president of the Cherokee Artists' Association.
Renowned painter and digital artist Joseph Erb won the visual arts category with "After the Vote," a painting that commented on the recent and controversial (and as yet unresolved) Cherokee Nation election. Among the allegorical images are two factions pointing at one another and holding signs that read "No Good" in Cherokee.
“It was made because a lot of stuff occurred after the election to where the community started fighting each other. I thought I’d make an art piece about it,” Erb told the Cherokee Phoenix. “It’s a perspective. I’m not picking the side of one group or another. I just wanted to show the reality of what politics can do to a community. It’s about the idea that we were letting an election divide our community.”
The Cherokee Homecoming Art Show runs through October 2 at the Cherokee Heritage Center in Park Hill, Oklahoma.