Cherokee National Treasures host art show

BY ROGER GRAHAM
Multimedia Producer – @cp_rgraham
07/19/2018 12:00 PM
Video Frame selected by Cherokee Phoenix
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Cherokee Nation citizen and inaugural Cherokee National Treasures Children’s Art Show participant Alexis Rietman displays her award-winning basketry under the mentorship of Cherokee National Treasure Mike Dart on July 7 in the Tsa-La-Gi Community Ballroom in Tahlequah. ROGER GRAHAM/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee National Treasures hosted their first Children’s and Student Art Show on July 7 in the Tsa-La-Gi Community Ballroom featuring artwork made by youth and adult students who were mentored and trained by Cherokee National Treasures.

Some student artists who presented are already accomplished artists but wanted to learn another artistic medium. Such was the case with Cherokee Nation citizen Harry Oosahwee.

“I’ve been carving stone and wood for years, and I’ve been painting for years” he said. “And so I decided I wanted to do something different. And when (Cherokee National Treasure) Bill Glass’s class came along, I decided to take it. I’ve really enjoyed working with ceramics, and think it might be a new medium I’ll start really working on.”

Oosahwee wasn’t the only adult Cherokee looking for a new artistic avenue. CN artist Tana Washington and Oosahwee’s daughter, Sedelta, along with several other CN citizens, signed up for the mentorship program. That is fine with CNT Committee Chairwoman Jane Osti, who said the mentorship program is crucial for developing future artists.

“Every treasure…has from two to 10 students.” Osti said. “The mentors who are teaching are experts in their field. In many cases, some of them have taught for 40 and 50 years, and they have knowledge that we’re going to lose if we don’t teach someone. This program is teaching a lot of people and they’re doing very well. In some instances, we have students who could actually go out and teach. And whether they teach the next generation or a daughter or grandchild, it’s going to produce more people practicing our cultural arts.”

Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said he was pleased with how the mentoring program is reaching communities. He said it’s another example of how the CNTs are helping save traditional Cherokee arts.

“Primarily their jobs have been to nominate or recommend new National Treasures, but they’ve been doing a lot of other things in the last few years. This student art competition is just a great example of how they’re getting artwork into the communities and inspiring new artists to get involved,” Hoskin said.

For more information on the CNT mentorship program, call 918-453-5728.

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