The Chickasaw Nation
SULFUR, Okla. — Thousands of art lovers descended on downtown June 25 to experience the colorful art, delicious food and intriguing entertainment at the ninth annual Artesian Arts Festival.
More than 50 Chickasaw artists participated in the festival, offering a diverse range of paintings, jewelry, stained glass, textiles, photography, beadwork and more. Approximately 5,000 visitors attended the festival.
Earlier this year, Tani Tyra Shackelford, who won Best in Show honors, quickly changed her plans to go out of state for the end of June weekend when she learned that the Artesian Arts Festival was resuming its in-person format after a two-year hiatus.
“It’s great to be back in person. It’s kind of like a family reunion,” said the master weaver early Saturday morning.
Shackleford’s 2D entry “Twin Turkeys,” which won Best of Show, featured a design inspired by ancient Mississippian carved shells, the Ada artist said.
“Design speaks to our place in the world,” she said. “The Mississippian had this belief in three worlds. The world we live in, the underworld and the upper world.”
The massive piece, created with soy silk yarn, was woven by hand and took around 30 hours to complete. Shackleford used Excel to design the model and map out each placement of the 300-string artwork, a massive task that took about 100 hours to complete.
Participating in all but one of the Artesian Arts Festivals, this is the first time a Chickasaw artist has won the event’s top honor.
“I’m speechless. It’s a huge honor, especially when you look at all the great artwork (in the show). To be voted best in show, I can’t believe it. I’m still kind of in shock,” Shackleford said.
The large framed woven piece is the result of the celebrated artist’s desire to step out of her comfort zone with the sprang technique, an ancient lace-making art form first introduced to her by Chickasaw weaver Margaret Roach Wheeler. Shackleford further researched this technique and trained himself.
“You don’t see anyone using this technique and creating 2D art with it, so I wanted to do something different and use the weaving technique to create 2D art and reach a wider audience,” she said.
Shackleford is a master fabricator whose work is in museums, premier First American Art Festivals, and numerous private collections.
She usually creates wearable items such as beaded dance belts, regalia, dresses and other fine, handmade garments. Artesian Arts Festival Top Winners
The Best of the Tyra Shackelford Show
The best of 2D Billy Hensley
Muskogean Sky Deer The Best of 3D Jack Pettigrew Eagle Flute/Triple Flute
Best of Culture Joanna Underwood-Blackburn “Water Bearer”
In addition to the wide array of artwork on display at the 2022 Artesian Arts Festival, demonstrations by the Chickasaw Nation Dance Troupe and Mitotiliztli Yaoyollohtli Aztec Dance Company, as well as performances by Emily Rhynes, NDN Soul, John Bomboy, High Water Gamble, Justin Logan and the Redmen Blues Band entertained the crowds throughout the day.
The Artesian Online Art Market provides another opportunity to view the works of talented Chickasaw and First American artists. Hosted by the Chickasaw Nation at ArtesianArtsFestival.com, the 2022 Virtual Market opened June 27 and runs through August 1, providing opportunities to view and purchase works by several First American artists. Transactions will be between the artist and the buyer. ArtesianArtsFestival.com will be updated with new artwork throughout the market.