Arts & Culture
Kiowa Agency: Stories of the Six
A first-of-its-kind exhibition is now on display at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art exclusively featuring the artists known as the Kiowa Six: Spencer Asah (1906-1954), James Auchiah (1906-1974), Jack Hokeah (1901-1969), Stephen Mopope (1898-1974), Lois Smoky (1907-1981), and Monroe Tsatoke (1904-1937). Kiowa Agency: Stories of the Six explores the ways in which these artists were agents of cultural preservation throughout their careers. The display will continue through Jan. 17, 2021.
Between 1927 and 1929 six Kiowa artists completed artistic residencies at the University of Oklahoma. Previous scholarship suggests Oscar B. Jacobson, director of the school of art at OU, discovered the artists, although they had already established careers before coming to the university. It is this narrative Kiowa Agency seeks to correct through emphasizing each artist’s individuality and career.
The exhibition is the result of a collaboration between the Art History program of the School of Visual Arts and the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art. The exhibition and accompanying catalog are funded by a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in New York City. The show was organized by three student-curators, Mariah Ashbacher, Julia Harth and Olivia von Gries, who were enrolled in a spring 2020 seminar on Native American Art and Museum Studies led by Dr. W. Jackson Rushing III.
While curating the show, the graduate students selected examples of artwork by the Kiowa Six from the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art's collections as well as from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum's Arthur and Shifra Silberman Native American Art Collection.
“Before quarantine began,” says von Gries, “we were lucky enough to have visited both collections and examined the artwork up-close and in-person. It was during our visit to the Cowboy that we saw the 'Kiowa Agency' poster by Stephen Mopope, which inspired both the title and entrance graphic for the exhibit.”
An exhibition catalog published in conjunction with the show is also available at the museum free of charge. Included in the catalog are biographies written by the curators, a forward by Dr. W. Jackson Rushing III, an introduction by Warren
Queton and essays by Daniel Swan and Eric Singleton.
A virtual gallery talk with the student curators is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 17. The exhibition will be on display through Jan. 17, 2021.
Jack Hokeah (U.S., Kiowa, 1901-1969)
Mère Kiowa et son Enfant (Kiowa Mother and her Child) (from Indians of North America Portfolio)