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The Language of Flowers

Monday July 08

The Myriad Botanical Gardens’ Fine Art Series presents the group exhibit

“The Language of Flowers,” curated by America Meredith


South Lobby, Crystal Bridge

June 6-July 31

Public Opening Reception: Thurs. June 6, 5-7pm


“The Language of Flowers” gallery show explores the relationship between people and flowers and plants, their roles in oral history, in medicine/ethnobotany, literature  and/or personal and family stories. Some of the works feature botanical imagery; some are more conceptual or abstract, as envisioned by an incredible group of nationally prominent and widely-collected Native American artists including: Heidi Bigknife, Shawnee; Kelly Church, Odawa-Ojibe; Tom Farris, Otoe-Missouria-Cherokee; Matt Jarvis, Osage; Topaz Jones,Shoshone-Lummi-Kalapuya-Molalla; Daniel McCoy, Muscogee Creek-Potawatomi-Seminole; America Meredith, Cherokee Nation; Erin Shaw, Chickasaw-Choctaw; Tony Tiger, Sac and Fox-Muscogee-Seminole.


Heidi Bigknife will bring jewelry and two-dimensional works to the show. Her artist statement tells us, “Conceptualizing and creating artwork connects me to many things the past and a connection to ancestors; self-identity; beauty and simplicity; my voice a voice to speak about these connections and to address society at large.

“In all my work I enjoy exploring the qualities that metal can offer both conceptually and aesthetically. Metal is an excellent conductor and I feel that this extends to conducting ideas through its markings and scars a graphic record of history. Reticulation, stamping, raising, casting, and patination all add to the inherent beauty of the metal surface.”

BigKnife received her Associates Degree from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe with a focus on photography, metalsmithing and videography. She also received a BA in Studio Art from Beloit College and an MFA from the University of Illinois.

Kelly Church is an enrolled member of her grandmother's tribe, the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa Chippewa Indians from Michigan. Her grandmother is half-Ojibwe and half-Ottawa and her grandfather is Gun Lake Potawatomi from Michigan. These three tribes make up the Confederation of the "Three Fires."


Says she: “Humor is an important part of Native culture and healing. If we were not able to come together and laugh at ourselves, the pain would seem too real. I want to help teach non-natives about today's Native Americans - the many different tribes and cultures - and to help dispel the Hollywood images.


“While I am inspired greatly by Woodland artists such as Norval Morriseau and Peter Migwams, I explore new styles and media. An Annihilable trickster hero, Nanabozo has been a compelling source of stories, teaching humanity - humility - survival. We are survivors. And I think we can make a difference in making better days ahead.”

When you’re 16, getting a car is usually the first priority. But in the case of Tom Farris, it was the gift of art that changed the course of his life. That gift, the painting “Fancy Dancer‚” by Kiowa artist R.W. Geionety, would become the catalyst for Farris’ future in the Native art business.

Growing up in North Carolina and North Dakota‚ far away from his Oklahoma tribes, Farris learned about Native culture on visits his family would make to the semi-annual Otoe-Missouria Encampments in Red Rock, Oklahoma.

By the time he was a teenager, Farris returned to Oklahoma, where he could be a part of powwows and dance in the Northern Traditional style. After high school, Farris enrolled at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma in Chickasha, where he first majored in communications. A summer job at Norman’s Jacobson House Native Art Center‚ the original home of the Kiowa Five’s art professor Oscar Jacobson, furthered his interest in Native art.

Farris’s tenure at the Jacobson House was followed by a three-year directorship of the Cherokee Art Market. In January 2008, Farris opened Standing Buffalo Gallery in downtown Norman, taking the name from a translation of his Otoe name, “Chadonayhe.” When Farris found an opportunity through the Otoe-Missouria Tribe to return to college, he decided to shut down the gallery and enroll at the University of Oklahoma, where his interests include museum and Native American studies. Farris maintains an online gallery and art brokerage service, retaining the name of “Standing Buffalo Gallery.

Painter-turned-photographer Matt Jarvis lives 17 miles outside of Pawhuska, OK in Osage County on his great-grandfather's allotment, he grew up drawing and painting, but in 1984 on a Close-Up Organization week in Washington DC , he took his first exhibited photographs.  He continued as a painter for a few more years while he taught himself camera techniques with an old German medium format camera from the 1930s.  In 1990, on an internship, he took some pictures in Hungary that were later published in a travel magazine thus beginning his commercial photography career in 1991.  He later went back to school and earned his BFA (University of Washington) and MFA (University of Oklahoma).  His work has been exhibited throughout the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and China.
In the late 1990s he began photographing still lifes of flowers that became "Garden Party" which ended up being a touring exhibit in 2006-7.  He continues to shoot flowers both in the garden and as still lifes because the love of flowers and gardening instilled in him by his mother.

Swedish-Cherokee artist, America Meredith, blends traditional styles from Native America and Europe with pop imagery of her childhood. Her influences range from the Bacone school of painting, the Arts and Crafts movement, 60s cartoons, to Mississippian shell engravings.


She is an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation. The Cherokee language and syllabary figure prominently in her work, as they are the strongest visual imagery unique to her tribe.


She works in pen and ink, serigraphy, monotype printing, and beadwork, but her primary focus is painting – in acrylic, egg tempera, gouache, and watercolor.


Meredith earned her MFA in painting from the San Francisco Art Institute and her BFA from the University of Oklahoma. She has shown throughout the United States and in Canada and Europe in the last 17 years and has won awards at the Heard and SWAIA's Indian Market as well as at numerous competitive shows. She was a 2009 Artist Fellow of the Museum of the American, won the IAIA Distinguished Alumni Award for Excellence in Contemporary Native American Arts in 2007 and was voted San Francisco Weekly’s Painter of the Year in 2006.


Erin Shaw  is an artist and teacher who works primarily within the painting discipline. Her work is concerned with the engagement of story: both its function and its telling.


Born and raised in Oklahoma, Shaw received her BFA from Baylor University and her MFA from the University of Oklahoma. She has exhibited across the United States, including Kansas, Florida, Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado. She currently lives and works in Oklahoma City with her husband, son and shoe thieving bird dog.


Tony Tiger is an enrolled member of the Sac and Fox Nation of Oklahoma and of Muscogee Creek and Seminole descent. He is the director of art and assistant art professor at Bacone College, Muscogee, Okla. Tony earned a master of fine arts degree from the University of Oklahoma, Norman, a bachelor of fine arts degree from Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, and an associate of arts degree from Seminole State College, Seminole, Okla. An award winning artist, Tiger has exhibited his artwork throughout the United States, and most recently he exhibited 20 pieces in an exhibition titled “Full Consciousness” at the Oklahoma State Capitol building. He serves as vice-president of the Cherokee Artists Association, in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. His artwork is found in the collections of museums as well as many private collections.


Jones and McCoy are very recent, marvelous additions to the show. Jones is an Institute of American Indian Arts grad, from Portland who works in oil enamel, and McCoy is an “obsessive acrylic painter.”


The exhibit is free to the public during regular Crystal Bridge hours. All art is for sale and a portion of the proceeds benefits the Myriad Botanical Gardens.


Visit or call 405.445.7080 for more information.

Where: Myriad Botanical Gardens
Phone: 445-7080
Address: 301 W. Reno

Myriad Botanical Gardens

301 W. Reno
Oklahoma City, OK
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