Buckle shares passion for Native culture, art as curator

A horse lover, Cherokee Nation citizen Monica Buckle volunteers at Pegasus Therapeutic Riding in Brewster, New York, to assist people with special needs. The art curator channels her love for Native culture into a consulting venture that collaborates with museums across the country.

GREENWICH, Conn. – Art curator and Cherokee Nation citizen Monica Buckle channels her love for Native American culture into a consulting venture that collaborates with museums across the country.

“I have a passion for promoting and sharing the beauty of Native American and Indigenous arts and culture,” said Buckle, who lives in Greenwich, Connecticut, but frequently travels. “I work with museums, cultural institutions and Native American, Alaska Native and Indigenous artists.”

Buckle is a consultant, curator and scholar specializing in traditional and contemporary Native American arts. She holds a master’s degree in art business from Sotheby’s Institute of Art in New York, and founded Monica Buckle Gallery LLC, an online art gallery that specializes in representing both emerging and established artists.

“A current project I am working on is with the Tucson Museum of Art in Arizona,” she said. “The museum is reinstalling its Indigenous collection. I have been assisting the museum as a consultant and curator. It has been wonderful working with the museum staff and fellow Native art consultants. We all share the common goal of presenting Indigenous art and cultural objects in a thoughtful and significant way.”

Like others, Buckle has adapted to the pandemic by moving much of her work online.

“Recently, I hosted and moderated virtual artist conversations and studio tours for the Lowe Art Museum in Miami, the Montclair Art Museum in New Jersey and Sotheby’s Institute of Art in New York,” she said. “Even though we cannot connect in-person for art events, it is fantastic how we can connect virtually.”

Buckle grew up in Connecticut, but spent summers in Sallisaw with her maternal grandmother and cousins – loved ones she considers her “connection to the Cherokee culture.”

“I have vivid memories of that time in my life,” she said. “I was blessed to connect with family and culture considering Connecticut is a distance away from Oklahoma. My grandmother was totally unique. She had a love for collecting art, especially Cherokee and Five Tribes art. Her appreciation for art extended to my mother, family and me. So much of my personal and professional life is based on Cherokee culture. I am forever grateful to my mother and how she opened my heart to the beauty of Cherokee tradition and philosophy.”

Buckle added that being Cherokee “is a way of existence.”

“It is so much larger than who I am as an individual,” she said. “The support from the tribe and tribal members means everything. I have much gratitude to all those who encourage and lift me up.”

A career highlight, Buckle said, was meeting and interviewing former Principal Chief Bill John Baker.

“Spending that time with Chief Baker was a surreal moment and a moment I will never forget,” she said. “Another highlight was when I was the guest speaker at West Point for the Academy’s Native American observance. It was amazing presenting before cadets and faculty and speaking about the achievements and legacy the Cherokee people have made to the U.S. military. I hope I am able to perpetuate and contribute to the Cherokee culture.”

Buckle also has a lifelong love of horses, a passion she shares with children and adults with disabilities and special needs as a program volunteer at Pegasus Therapeutic Riding in Brewster, New York.

“I dedicate a significant amount of time to Pegasus,” she said. “It is the highest honor to be part of a participant’s journey towards healing. I have witnessed miracles. The horse has the power to transform, and does it ever.”

Buckle serves as a development committee member for the budding Fine Art Museum of Sedona in Arizona and on the Colorado-based Mesa Verde Foundation Board of Directors.

“I believe in the commitment to preserving sacred Native American sites and furthering cultural understanding,” Buckle said.

For information, visit monicabuckle.com.