First American Art Magazine No. 21, Winter 2018/19 - Page 56

PROFILE Choctaw, Chickasaw, Pawnee, Comanche. We print all their papers. How did your childhood influence your art? Growing up, my mother spoke Choctaw. She was fluent. She couldn’t speak too good English, so she would tell us stories in Choctaw. A lot of times we didn’t have electricity so she would be a good story- teller; storytelling about animals, signs, and how to do things … that me and my family benefit from today. We didn’t stay in the house and watch TV. We’d go into the woods and play. Our imagination was in the woods. I really cherish those times when I was little growing up. We didn’t go to powwows or any Indian places like that. We were—I don’t want to say isolated, but I don’t know. We were just happy, content where we were. I liked to see pretty things: flowers, creeks, animals. Me and my brother would make little arbors out of twigs and grass. We’d get potted meat cans to put in the ground with a little water so it looked like a pond for our little villages. Our imagination was innocent, natural, in an Indian way. That was one of the best times in my life. That’s why I like to do miniature paintings. above The Ice Cream Parlor, 2018, watercolor on Arches paper, 13 × 9 in., private collection. opposite Sunday Dinner, 2018, watercolor on Arches paper, 12¼ × 16¼ in., private collection. get a Sunday paper. And he would buy me and my brother ice cream. We would sit on those little barstools, and you could see the little boy eating his ice cream—me, she’s got strawberry ice cream. I always liked strawberry ice cream. And the man has got that paper with his eyeglasses on. I put a little twist on it. My dad was always a man who liked to read; he knew all the current events, everything. So today, we have a printing company, the Stigler News-Sentinel, and I put that masthead on it right at the top. That paper does printing for a lot of Indian tribes now: Cherokee, 54 | WWW.FIRSTAMERICANARTMAGAZINE.COM My dad was raised in a boarding school and couldn’t speak Choctaw so that’s why I learned English. He was a carpenter, a housepainter, and he would bring home boxes of scrap, blocks of wood, and his leftover paint. I used to paint with my daddy’s paints. I started drawing when I was five. I started my watercolor around 13 … when I took it to that next level. In fact I’ve still got some of my older ones. My transition was like—I always kind of painted what I do now but not as good. But it was good [for] what I could do at that time. Your paintings sell for thousands of dollars today. Tell us about the first time you ever sold a painting. It was for 12 dollars and 50 cents! We had a reunion day in my hometown, Stigler, and my brother was proud of me, carrying [the painting] around, so a man says, “What’s that you’ve got, what’s she want