Choctaw Nation hosts Artist Bazaar
Employees dressed in traditional attire browse the selection of art from Martha Dewitt.
Culture flowed strong at the headquarters of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma Dec. 2, as the staff and guests celebrated the monthly event, Heritage Monday.
This event, hosted the first Monday of each month, serves as a beacon of the Choctaw history, essentially turning the tribal complex in Durant, into a cultural center for the day.
December’s heritage day marked a new milestone for the event, introducing “Artist Bazaar.” In addition to the usual demonstration of culture, such as employees wearing traditional clothing, Choctaw dance lessons and craft lessons, Choctaw artist specializing in various mediums were invited to set up displays throughout the three-story complex.
“I’m thrilled to be here,” stated Lauretta Newby-Coker, who displayed her stained glass creations.
Newby-Coker was just one of over a dozen artists who filled the venue for Artist Bazaar. Talents varied from beadwork and pottery, to traditional dressmaking and painting. All the crafts were for sale; making the event a great opportunity for those seeking unique Christmas gifts reflecting native culture.
Lana Sleeper, coordinator of Heritage Monday, spoke of the results of Artist Bazaar with great hope, mentioning that this is something that can give artists a chance to publicize their work and circulate their name in the community.
The partnership between the Choctaw Nation and the artists is mutually beneficial, in that it promotes heritage and culture in a physical and appealing way, all while supporting those who keep the history alive through their skills.
It is Sleeper’s hope that youth will recognized the financial viability of these trades as the artists of today market their work, and in turn, become motivated to continue nurturing cultural talents in the future. “It’s not just a hobby,” stated Sleeper.
Newby-Coker, an art teacher at Longfellow Middle School in Norman, shares a similar sentiment. It is her hope that her work will live on, inspiring others to become involved in the art forms of their heritage.
Newby-Coker, with only a year of experience, has created a large number of stained glass pieces. However, she has been involved in painting, ink and coffee washes, and scrimshaw for many years, her interest in art sparking in high school.
If you are a Choctaw artist and would like to be contacted for events such as Artist Bazaar or cultural gatherings, please become a part of the Artists’ Registry by calling 800-522-6170 ext. 2347, or visit our web sign-up page. To see work from Newby-Coker, visit newbycoker.com.