Joanna Underwood Blackburn
Pottery & Sculpture

My primary art mediums are pottery, sculpture and graphic design. My secondary art mediums are painting and photography. My goal is to create new life into our ancient ancestors’ designs greatly inspired by the Mississippian Culture Period, and to make them relevant to today. I believe it’s possible to tell our cultural stories and share our tribal family values in a modern context, creating a connection to others through our contemporary art. 

Our Southeastern ancestors preserved and shared their lives with us in their copper work, pottery, shell work, textiles and baskets, among many other mediums. I hope our ancestors are celebrating the rejuvenation of Southeastern arts with us and the continuation of preserving our Chickasaw culture—for our families and the generations of those who come after us.


Kristen Dorsey

I believe that jewelry is a sacred narrative. Jewelry captures a moment of significance for the wearer; it marks important transitions in a life. It symbolizes relationships with one another, with one’s community, with one’s cultural identity and with one’s spirituality. 

I strive to create timeless jewelry which is rooted within tradition while maintaining a contemporary edge and elegance. I firmly believe that culture is never lost, but rather forgotten, and creating art is a way to remember. Working with these materials and imagery connects me to my ancestors.


Brent Greenwood

I am inspired by the numerous art forms and narratives that are a part of my Chickasaw and Ponca heritage. To establish visual depth in my acrylic paintings, I go through the process of underpainting to create layered effects. Through that process, it directs me and I automatically feel that connectedness. Our Chickasaw’s southeastern motifs and tribal perspectives are a reflection of the pride I feel as a 21st century indigenous man making his mark.


Painting & MIXED MEDIA

I am inspired by the numerous art forms and narratives that are a part of my Chickasaw and Ponca heritage. To establish visual depth in my acrylic paintings, I go through the process of underpainting to create layered effects. Through that process, it directs me and I automatically feel that connectedness. Our Chickasaw’s southeastern motifs and tribal perspectives are a reflection of the pride I feel as a 21st century indigenous man making his mark.


Painting & MIXED MEDIA

Though my day-to-day work is in language revitalization, I make pictures in various media that derive from our ancestral oral traditions, and that are heavily informed by our Chickasaw language. My process is pretty simple. I think about old stories that I've heard and collected from native speakers and I try to put those images and words onto paper or canvas. I really care about these old stories, our speakers and our language. I take great joy in representing these things for other folks to enjoy.

In Chickasaw, I would say: 

“Chokma. Saholhchifoat Lokosh. Chikashsha saya. Kowishto' Iksa', Imatapo' inchokka-chaffa' ishtaaonchololili. Chikashshiyaakni' intoksalilikat Chikashshanompolilikat naaholba' ikbili.”

Which means,

“Hello. My name is Gourd. I'm a Chickasaw. I am a descendent of the Panther Clan and Their-Tent-People house group. I work for the Chickasaw Nation, I speak Chickasaw and I make pictures.”



I began drawing when I was five years old and created my first watercolor at age thirteen. I developed a style and technique of my own in watercolor called ‘basket weave’ strokes. Painting layer upon layer of small, cross-hatched strokes creates a unique, three-dimensional effect in my artwork. As a self-taught artist, I find inspiration to paint from family stories, traditional dances and our native lifestyle. I also like to paint old and new subject matter together to create contemporary works. My father was my biggest fan, always encouraging me that whatever I did in life, to do the best that I could do. He said to never change my art and my vision, and I still follow his advice. 



My primary focus in the world of art is photography, with an emphasis on digital photography. I enjoy the digital side of photography because it allows me to emphasize certain aspects of a photograph by using different tones and colors. It also provides the opportunity to bring a completely different feel to a piece of work, just as the simple use of a different angle can completely change how a picture feels. This medium allows me to capture a brief moment in time and make it last a lifetime. 



My paintings have been described as Narrative Symbolism. The paintings reflect my history, experiences, and the way I see my environment. I see life in a series of patterns that can almost be described as visual tapestries—full of as many as twenty-five thin, overlapping layers. The goal is to create paintings full of life’s breath that are full of boundless energy, and yet exacting. I want to combine complementary opposites. Every culture gathers for song and dance. In that movement I try to capture time. These are the times when we abandon the self to enjoy the simplicity of joy in God’s blessings.



By exploring the modern world through the lens of a native artist, my work connects the past to the future. I use a variety of materials to tell my stories, never shying away from trying new mediums. In each work there is ornate, consistent Muskogean aesthetic. Life in motion continues to inspire me every day; in that, I try to always move forward with one eye on the past and one on the future. Through the practice of both modern and traditional arts of painting, digital art, shell carving, casting, sculpting and much more, my work continues the traditions of my ancestors.


Painting & MIXED MEDIA

I work to express contemporary ideas of Chickasaw iconography and reflections of modern life... the exploration of materials and techniques from paper to silver, from digital drawings cut into steel, age old metal forming techniques and fused and cast glass. 

Rivers and ideas of location, both modern and historic places in Chickasaw lives, nature and our connection, all play their roles in my art. The ideas that shape our modern lives are not likely different than those of the long ago past, our community, our family. A celebration of the wonderful world we live in.



My work as an artist rests in this simple assertion: We are collectors of stories and the stories we collect shape the people we are. In narrative style, I create paintings engaged in story: both its function and its telling. I see my role in this process as mediator and disrupter: standing between two opposing things, separating them, placing boundaries in new and unusual places and joining them once again. I work in this manner that I might see things in a new way. 

As I collect and work with stories, I am reminded time and time again that stories are fluid. They must bend and move in order to continue to serve us. I sometimes see myself going into ancient times, gathering up stories and bringing them into my current context. Our ancient stories are vital, but it is not enough to merely re-tell these stories. We must actively participate with our stories and allow them to evolve, even as we do. This element of my work is vital as I investigate and explore what it means to be Chickasaw today and what it will mean for generations to come.



I have a passion for mastering and preserving the techniques my ancestors used to create textiles, and using these ancient techniques to create modern pieces. I wish to inspire others to learn about these old methods. My mission is to share my knowledge with the world through my art and my teachings.



As a member of the Chickasaw, Muscogee (Creek) and Choctaw tribes, I have a different point of view in fashion. I find inspiration in the history of the Southeastern tribes and draw on the artistic nature of my American Indian heritage. 

Always striving to improve awareness of the beauty of my culture, I have introduced Native American patchwork to a new generation in the form of brilliantly detailed wall hangings and handbags. I incorporate Native American designs with a contemporary twist, becoming part of a movement of artists who are creating modern decorative objects in an ancient manner. 

As a designer, I value quality over quantity and style over trend.  I have created a design that expresses Native American roots with contemporary, sustainable style that will live on after end use. 



I worked as an artist and sculptor for 30 years, the media in which I was trained; yet my direction dramatically changed when a teaching position required me to teach weaving. I had grown up in a household where fibers were part of daily life. My mother and grandmother were constantly knitting, sewing, quilting and crocheting; nonetheless, I never considered this portion of my life as integral to my artistic work. The loom and the act of weaving, however, brought back memories of not only childhood, but also an awareness of my Chickasaw heritage. Today, fibers have become the paint and the metal wherein I work. My training, my heritage and my artistic talent have found completion in the act of weaving and the creation of sculpted, artistic forms for the body.



I find discarded materials to fashion my pieces. Gathering the materials needed to make each piece is an integral part of the process. I find 100-year-old discarded steel to hand forge each of my knives. I describe my work as functional art. While my finished work is not traditional to the eye, the process of a blade being forged remains the same. I believe tradition is being made in the present. What I do today in art could very well be considered traditional 50 years from now.