Award-winning Native American art on display throughout state

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“Castle 2,” a photograph/painting by Alan Burris.
“Suspicion,” a painting by Larry Carter.
One of Margaret Roach-Wheeler’s shirts created from her loom.

Award-winning Native American art on display throughout state

Works by Alan Burris, Larry Carter and Margaret Roach-Wheeler, all award-winning Native American artists, are on display at separate locations in Oklahoma through June 30.

Burris’ paintings are featured at the Chickasaw Visitor Center in Sulphur. Carter’s paintings are showcased at the Chickasaw Nation Welcome Center in Davis while Roach-Wheeler’s hand-woven designs can be seen at Exhibit C in Oklahoma City.

Burris had never considered art more than a hobby until he returned to school in his late 30s and met a man who taught him that art can be a career.

“I had always dabbled in art, and it had always piqued my interest,” he said. “When I went back to school I had a different approach and soon realized that art didn’t just have to be a sideline project any longer, it could be my career path. I’ve since spent the last two decades teaching art at a college-level, covering a diverse range of art topics including painting, photography, drawing, watercolor and clay.”

Burris’ approach starts when he captures a digital image, edits it by focusing on surface quality and altering it to create his own original piece of work. His numerous awards include USAO Seven-States Biennial Exhibition in Chickasha; Five-State Photography Exhibition in Hays, Kansas; and the Great Plains Art Show in Durant.

Burris, a Chickasaw native, and his wife Sharon live in Ardmore and operate Moondancer Studios while he continues to teach at Murray State College.

Like Burris, Carter also found himself on a new career path. He had lifelong passion for sketching, but it wasn’t until 2010 when he decided to give oil painting a try, opening more possibilities to express himself as a sketcher and painter.

“I had always wanted to be a painter, but I thought I needed instruction to do so,” Carter said. “I bought an elk painting and when I saw it, I was inspired to try my hand at painting. I ended up winning an award for my first painting just a week after it was completed at the University of Oklahoma staff art show.”

While Carter spends time in the studio painting, he also enjoys time on the OU campus painting en plein air, which is French for painting outdoors. He has exhibited at art walks, festivals and several art shows in the past five years, and has won multiple awards.

Roach-Wheeler’s hand-woven textiles and garments have been featured in museums in Oklahoma, New Mexico, New York, Indiana, Colorado and Arizona. She began creating garments as a child and discovered weaving while earning her master’s degree in textiles. She founded Mahota Handwovens in 1984.

“The spirit of my great-great-great grandmother Mahota flows through the designs that I create with the loom,” said the Chickasaw-Choctaw native. “As a native artist, my research of ancient tribal cultures is ongoing; I blend historical motifs with modern style and artistry. Natural fibers like cotton, wool and linen that were once used by my ancestors are as important to my weaving as the design work of my museum pieces or Mahota contemporary fashions.”

Roach-Wheeler was one of four Native American fashion designers to speak at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in New York, and has won numerous awards for her hand-woven garments and special woven sculptures at Red Earth Indian Market, Santa Fe Indian Market and Heard Museum Indian Market.

She works from her studio at the ARTesian Gallery and Studios in Sulphur, creating new textile designs and mentoring the next generation of weavers.

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