Feast for the eyes

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Feast for the eyes – Chickasaw artists draw on heritage, culture

By Linda Miller

Something wonderful happens when Chickasaw artists Doug Strickland, Lisa Hudson and Bill Hensley put paint to canvas or look through a camera lens.

The result is beautiful, interesting and special pieces that often reflect the artists’ love of their culture and heritage, giving others an intimate look at their world.

Their contemporary paintings and photographs are on exhibit at three separate locations in Oklahoma through February. Strickland’s artwork is on view at the Chickasaw Nation Welcome Center in Davis. Hudson’s art is displayed at the Chickasaw Visitor Center in Sulphur, and Hensley’s paintings can be seen at Exhibit C in Oklahoma City.

Doug Strickland, Chickasaw Nation Welcome Center, Davis

Strickland shares his view of the land through photographs. He purchased his first camera at age 14 and started capturing images of the land as his ancestors once saw it.

“As a lifelong resident of rural Oklahoma, being outdoors and next to nature was the norm, thus ensuring a profound love and respect for all the wonders of our world, the same world my forefathers loved and respected,” Strickland said. “I find particular delight in all things Chickasaw; all are viewed through my ‘Chickasaw Eyes,’ those behind the camera lens, just waiting to capture and share my Chickasaw World.”

Strickland is a descendant of original Chickasaw enrollees, Woodrow Winchester Strickland and Charles K. Strickland, territorial sheriff of the Chickasaw Nation.

His awards are many, most recently the Artists of the Arbuckles photography contest and the Chickasaw Nation’s Call to Artists competition. Two of his first place photographs from the competition have been placed on permanent display at the Chickasaw Visitor Center in Sulphur.

Lisa Hudson, Chickasaw Visitor Center, Sulphur

Hudson’s photographs capture the beauty of the Oklahoma landscape, but she’s also a talented painter. She likes to portray her heritage by combining traditional Chickasaw heritage with vibrant patterns and colors.

“My photographic sense is not solely limited to landscapes and nature,” Hudson said. “I have a knack for turning simple everyday scenes into photographic works of art.”

Her most recent awards were from SEASAM, the Te Ata Fisher Chickasaw Art Show, Chickasaw Visitor Center Photography Contest and Artist of the Arbuckles.

Bill Hensley, Exhibit C, Oklahoma City

Hensley credits his grandmother, Katherine Cunningtubby, for teaching him about the rich history of his ancestors and instilling in him a love of heritage and culture.

By incorporating special techniques, his paintings bring modern Chickasaw culture and artwork to the mainstream stage.

“I strive to focus on what it meant to be Chickasaw long ago, and what it means to be Chickasaw in today’s world,” said Hensley, a self-taught artist. “I find inspiration for my work in everyday life and through the nostalgia that being Chickasaw brings.”

For more information, visit ChickasawCountry.com.

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