Smith uses nature for artistic inspiration
Cherokee Nation citizen Ryan Lee Smith, of Bristow, says he uses nature to inspire his artwork, which focuses on drawings of animals, because he has had connections with them his entire life. COURTESY
Ryan Lee Smith’s acrylic painting “Unanimous.” COURTESY
Ryan Lee Smith’s mixed media painting of a fox. COURTESY
BRISTOW – Cherokee Nation citizen Ryan Lee Smith said his artwork focuses on drawings of animals because he has had connections with them his entire life.
“I remember having a group of kids standing around me as I was drawing a mouse on a piece of paper. One little girl said ‘can you put shoes on him,’ and I drew a pair of sandals on the mouse and everybody laughed,” he said.
He was in preschool when he started drawing and continued to draw and paint all through high school. After graduating high school, Smith went to Baylor University and earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and then received a master’s degree in fine arts at the University of New Orleans.
Smith grew up in a Creek County just outside of Bristow. He was born in Tahlequah. He said he remembers as a kid that he would go fishing, make forts and identify birds by their songs.
“My entire world as a kid was in the woods,” he said. “I was a part of the land, and I didn’t realize how much a part of it I was until I returned to it years later with my little family.”
His current work is representative of his connection to his surroundings. Smith’s grandmother is an artist and she provided him with the tools to paint and draw alongside her.
“Not only did she teach me those things, but she was instilling the values I have now and the ones I hope to emulate,” Smith said.
As a painter and a sculptor and through his connection to nature, Smith includes animals in much of his artwork. He uses both oil and acrylics when painting. His sculptures are made entirely from repurposed materials such as old cowboy boots, fanny packs, snakeskins, bones, old toys and much more.
“The imagery is the same as in my paintings. For example, I recently made an owl from a goose decoy covered in cowboy boot leather standing 32 inches. The owl is walking his cobra on a gold chain leash, the cobra is made from a snakeskin I harvested myself a few summers ago. That piece was purchased by a collector during the Santa Fe Indian market last year,” he said.
Smith has a studio outside of Bristow and he has a second studio in Austin, Texas.
“I split the time between the two,” he said.
Smith’s artwork is available to purchase from his Facebook page, Instagram or through him.
BRISTOW – ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎨᎳ Ryan Lee Smith ᏭᎪᏛ ᎨᏒ ᎡᎿᎢ ᏓᏟᎶᏍᏗᎠᎪᎢ ᏂᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗᏍᎬᏃ ᎥᏍᎩ ᏧᎸᏉᏗ ᎨᏎ ᎤᏛᏏᏗᏒᎢ.
“ᎦᏅᏓᏗᏍᎪ ᎢᎸᏍᎩ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᎬᏩᎦᏙᏍᏛ ᏥᏍᏕᏥ ᏕᏥᎵᏕᏍᏗᏍᎬᎢ ᎪᏪᎵᎢ. ᏌᏊᏃ ᎤᏍᏗ ᎠᎨᏳᏣ ᎠᎦᏛᏛᏅ “ᎡᎵᏊᏍ ᏱᏕᎯᎳᏑᏢᎩ ᎠᏉᏎᎸᎢ,” ᏥᏚᎳᏑᎶ ᎡᎵᏍᏗ ᏕᏥᎵᏕᏍᏓᏁᎸ ᏥᏍᏕᏥ ᏧᎳᏏᏕᎾ” ᏂᎦᏓ ᎤᏃᏢᏓᏁᎸᎩ,” ᎤᏛᏅᎩ.
ᏧᎾᏍᏗ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᏥᏓᏕᎶᏆᏍᎬᏅᎴᏂᎮ ᏓᏟᎶᏍᏗᏍᎬᎢ ᎠᎴ ᏓᏑᏫᏍᎬᎢ ᏂᎬᎲᎵᏐ ᎨᏒ ᎦᎸᎳᏗ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᏓᏕᎶᏆᏍᎬᎢ. ᏚᏍᏆᏗᏃ ᎦᎸᎳᏗ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ, Baylor University ᏚᏙᎥ ᏩᎦᎸᎳᏗᏴ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗᎢ ᏫᏚᎶᏆᏛᎢ. ᎤᎾᏃ ᏚᏍᏆᏗ ᎾᏊ New Orleans ᏚᏙᎥ ᏩᎦᎸᎳᏗᏴ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᏫᏚᏕᎶᏆᎡᎢ ᎠᎴ ᏫᏚᏍᏆᏕ ᎤᎪᏛ ᎠᎴ ᏓᏙᏢ ᏧᏟᎶᏍᏙᏗ ᎤᎬᏩᎵ.
Smith ᎢᏃ ᎫᏐ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᎤᏛᏒ Bristow ᏚᏙᎥ ᎦᏚᎲ ᎾᎥᎢ. ᏓᎵᏆ ᎤᏕᏅᎢ. ᏩᏅᏓᏍᎪ ᎠᏗ ᏧᏍᏗᎬ ᎠᏑᎲᏍᎬ, ᎠᎴ ᏓᏐᏴ ᏕᎪᏢᏍᎬ ᎾᏃ ᏕᎪᏢᎬ ᎢᏳᎾᏍᏗ ᎨᏒ ᏥᏍᏆ ᏄᏍᏛᏊ ᏚᏃᏴᎬ ᏓᏂᏃᎩᏍᎬᎢ. “ᏣᎦᏍᏗᎬ ᏂᎪᎯᎸ ᎢᎾᎨ ᎨᏙᎵᏙᎲᎢ,” ᎠᏗ. “ᏌᏊ ᎢᏲᎩᎾᏍᏗ ᎾᏍᎩᏊ ᎨᏒ ᎠᏯ ᎾᏃ ᎦᏙᎯ, ᎤᏟᎯᏊ ᎨᏒ ᎢᎸᏍᎩ ᎢᏧᏕᏘᏴᏓ ᎤᎶᏒ ᎾᎿ ᏏᏓᏁᎸ ᎣᎦᏙᏢᏒ ᏬᎩᎷᏥ.” ᎾᏊᏃ ᎢᏳᏍᏗᏊ ᏱᏚᏟᎶᏍᏔᏂ ᎾᎿ ᎡᎲ ᎾᎥ ᏄᏍᏗᏓᏅ ᏂᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗᏍᎪᎢ. ᎤᎵᏏᏃ ᎥᏍᏊ ᏗᏟᎶᏍᏗᏍᎩ ᎨᏎᎢ ᎠᎴ ᎥᏍᎩ ᎾᎿ ᎤᏁᎮ ᎤᏛᏂᏓᏍᏗ ᏓᏑᏫᏍᎬᎢ ᎾᏃ ᎤᎾᎵᎪ ᏓᏂᏑᏫᏍᎨᎢ.
“ᎥᏝ ᎥᏍᎩᏊ ᎢᎦ ᏯᏇᏲᏁᎢ, ᎾᏃ ᏧᎵᏍᎨᏗ ᏗᎦᏔᏂᏓᏍᏗ ᎪᎯᏥᎩ ᏥᏴᏆᏅᏘ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏚᎩ ᎠᏋ ᎤᏩᎦᏗᏗᏒ ᏗᏆᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗᎢ,” ᎠᏗ Smith.
ᏗᏑᏫᏍᎩ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏲᏢᏍᎩ ᏥᎩ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏁᎳᏅᎯ ᎤᏬᏢᏅ ᏥᎦᏛᏅᏗᏍᎪ, ᎤᏂᎪᏗ ᎠᏁᎿ ᏕᎦᏗᏍᎪ ᏱᏚᏟᎶᏍᏔᏂ. ᎢᏧᎳ ᎪᎢ ᎠᎴ ᎠᎹ ᎠᎵᏍᏓᏅ ᎦᎶᏁᏗ ᏕᎦᏗᏍᎪᎢ ᏯᏑᏫᏍᎩ. ᏯᏲᏢᏍᎩᏃ ᏂᎦᏓ ᎬᏗᏍᎬ ᎦᏳᎳ ᎦᎬᏅ ᎨᏐᎢ, ᏯᏛᎿ ᏗᎬᏩᎵᏲᏍᏗ, ᎠᏓᏠᏍᏗ ᎠᏝᏩᏗ, ᎢᎾᏓ ᎦᏁᎩ, ᏧᎪᎳ, ᏧᏪᏘ ᏗᏁᎸᏙᏗ, ᎠᎴ ᎤᎪᏗ ᏧᏓᎴᏅᏗ.
“ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᎦᏓᏅᏖᏍᎬ ᎥᏍᎩ ᎨᏐ ᏱᏓᎩᎶᏁᎠ, ᏱᏓᏟᎶᏍᏔᏂ, ᎯᎠ ᏞᎩ ᏥᎨᏒ ᎤᏓᏓ ᎠᏉᏢᏅ ᏌᏌ ᏗᎦᎶᎾᏍᏙᏗ ᎠᏆᏛᏅ ᏗᎬᏩᎵᏲᏍᏗ ᏩᎦ ᎦᏁᎬ ᎫᏢᏛᏅ ᏦᏍᎪᎯ ᎢᏯᏏᏔᏗᏍᏗ ᎢᎦᏔ. ᎤᎫᎩᏃ ᎡᏆ ᎢᎾᏓ ᎡᏓᏍᏗᏍᎬᎩ ᎠᏕᎳ ᏓᎶᏂᎨ ᎤᎾᏓᏕᏒᏗ ᎬᏗᏍᎬᎢ, ᎢᎾᎨ ᎡᏆ ᎢᎾᏓ ᎦᏁᎦ ᎪᏢᏔᏅᎩ ᎠᏇᏒ ᎠᏆᎵᏏᏅᏔᏅ ᎢᎸᏍᎩ ᎾᏕᏘᏯ ᏥᎨᏒᎢ. ᎥᏍᎩᎾᏃ ᎩᎶ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᏗᎵᏏᏅᏗᏍᎩ ᎤᏩᏒᎩ Santa Fe ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯ ᎤᏂᎾᏗᏅᏗᎢ ᏑᏕᏘᏴᏗ ᏥᎨᏒᎢ,” ᎤᏛᏅᎩ.
Bristow ᎦᏚᎲ ᎾᎥ ᎤᏬᏢ ᏧᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗᎢ ᏐᎢᏃ ᎤᏬᏢ Austin Texas ᎦᏚᎲᎢ. “ᎢᏧᎳᏊ ᏕᎬᏗᏍᎪᎢ ᎢᏗᎦᏗᎭ,” ᎠᏗ. ᏰᎵᏊ ᎠᏩᎯᏍᏗ ᎭᏬᏢᏅᏅ ᎪᏪᎵ ᎤᎧᏘ, Instagram ᎴᏱᎩ, ᎤᏩᏌᏊ ᎴᏱᎩ ᏱᏩᏝᏃᎮᏓᏂ.
– TRANSLATED BY DENNIS SIXKILLER