Skip to Main Content

Native American Oral History Resources: Oklahoma Native Artists Oral History Project

About the Collection

The Oklahoma Native Artists Project is a series of oral history interviews with Native artists, collectors, and gallery owners. The interviews are recorded in audio and video formats, and at the end of each oral history, specific examples of an artist’s work are discussed. The purpose of this project is to highlight the lives and careers of Native artists, to draw attention to the political aspects of making Native art, and to raise awareness of its cultural and economic importance. The first interviews, begun in 2010, included painters, potters, sculptors, photographers and conceptual artists over fifty years of age, most of whom had worked in the field since the 1960s. In 2012, the scope of the project was expanded to include the traditional fine arts and younger artists. Visit our new portal for Oklahoma Native Art.

Topics covered

Art--study and teaching, Art and business, Art and history, Art collectors and collecting, Awards, Basket making, Bow and arrow making, Cartooning, Ceramic sculpture, Clothing, Commercial art galleries, Commissioning, Competitions, Drawing, Experimental methods, Family, Fashion designers, Festivals, Fiberwork, Finger weaving, Flute makers, Graphic arts, Graphic novels, Hand weaving, Illustration of books, Indian Arts and Crafts Act, Indian baskets, Indian beadwork, Indian ledger drawings, Indian pottery, Inspiration, Institute of Indian Arts, Jewelry making, Landscapes, Material culture, Mixed media, Music, Museums, Painting, Politics in art, Portrait painting, Photography, Rites and ceremonies, Sculpture, Spirituality, Technique, Textile crafts, Watercolor painting, Woodwork

Select interviews from the Oklahoma Native Artists Collection

Shan Goshorn

Shan Goshorn, a professional artist for many years, has worked in a variety of mediums. She talks about growing up and being one of the few native people in her school. She explains how she came to pursue art as a career and discusses some of her bigger projects. Goshorn mentions some of the people and groups she has worked with, including The Makers, a group of Oklahoma Native conceptual artists. She goes into detail about some of the specific types of mediums she has worked with and her creative process. Goshorn also comments on the opportunities she has had.

Norma Howard

Norma Howard, an artist and Choctaw, mostly paints watercolors. She describes some of her experiences growing up and how they have affected her art. Howard explains how she first started painting and how she became involved in art competitions. She comments on her creative process and how she finds inspiration. Howard also mentions her family and her affection for the Choctaw people.

Interviews featured in a podcast

Episode 5: From the Belly of Our Being

In this episode, we listen to oral history interview excerpts of Anita Fields and Shan Goshorn, who were part of the exhibition From the Belly of Our Being: art by and about Native creation than ran from September 2016 to January 2017 at the Oklahoma State University Museum of Art. The exhibition features beautiful pieces of Native American art made by talented artists from Oklahoma and across the country. Listeners will also go behind the scenes of the exhibition with curator Heather Ahtone and learn about the inspiration for From the Belly of Our Being.

Episode 21: Dick West’s Impact on Native Art

In this episode of Amplified Oklahoma, we’re examining the influence of Cheyenne artist Dick West on the lives of two women who began their careers at a time when there was rarely a recognized professional Native woman artist. From the Oklahoma Oral History Research Program’s archives, we’ll hear interview excerpts from Sharron Ahtone Harjo and Joan Hill, two artists who share Bacone College as their alma mater and who studied under West. Later, we’ll sit down with Dick West Jr. to learn more about his father’s legacy in the revival of the Bacone College art department through the advancement of Indian artists.

Episode 43: Norma Howard on Native Art

The Edmon Low Library at Oklahoma State University regularly displays exhibits in the Lisa and Mark Snell Gallery on the second floor. During the 2019-2020 academic year, the gallery housed Native American Art pieces from the Maxine and Jack Zarrow Collection. If you were able to go and take a look for yourself, you may have noticed a particularly luminous watercolor by artist Norma Howard. Norma Howard is a Choctaw-Chickasaw artist from Stigler, Oklahoma who is known for her vivid watercolor paintings that depict scenes of Choctaw life. In this episode of Amplified Oklahoma, we’ll be exploring Norma Howard’s art and life and listening to excerpts from her interview for the Oklahoma Native Artist Oral History Project. We’ll also speak with Dr. Julie Pearson-Little Thunder, coordinator of the project, about Norma and the importance of documenting Native art across the state of Oklahoma.