Despite COVID-19 concerns collaborative effort brings museums together for MVSKOKE VOICES exhibition

Posted by Eric Oesch on 03/25/2020

WEWOKA, OK – For over 40 years the Red Earth Art Center in Oklahoma City, and the Seminole Nation Museum in Wewoka have worked to achieve their similar missions to share the history and traditions of American Indian arts and cultures through a combination of ethnological programming, educational outreach, art exhibitions and their award-winning festivals. This spring, in a first-ever shared effort between the two non-profit organizations, the museums will present MVSKOKE VOICES Contemporary Native American Art - a collaborative art show featuring seven of Oklahoma’s most talented Seminole and Muscogee (Creek) artists.

            MVSKOKE VOICES Contemporary Native American Art was scheduled to open April 6 at the Seminole Nation Museum in Wewoka, but due to the COVID-19 concerns is delayed until restrictions on public gatherings has been lifted.

            “We are taking every precaution to ensure the safety of our museum guests,” said Richard Elwanger, Seminole Nation Museum executive director. “We have a beautiful show featuring some of Oklahoma’s most talented artists ready for the public. Out of concerns for safety we have put the opening on hold and will be ready to open when the time is right.”

            When the museum reopens, MVSKOKE VOICES Contemporary Native American Art will continue, free to the public, through June 13 at the Seminole Nation Museum.

Both the Red Earth Art Center and Seminole Nation Museum have worked to create a contemporary art exhibition that celebrates artists of Muscogee (Creek) and Seminole origins. Those who share the MVSKOKE language also share a deep connection through their extraordinary history and cultural traditions.

            MVSKOKE VOICES Contemporary Native American Art features beautiful examples of both Seminole and Muscogee (Creek) painting, screen printing, textile and sculpture pieces. The invitational art show will showcase the art of award-winning artists Dana Tiger (Muscogee Creek), Enoch Kelly Haney (Seminole), Leslie A. Deer (Muscogee Creek), Tony Tiger (Muscogee (Creek), Sac & Fox, Seminole), Bobby C. Martin (Muscogee Creek), Benjamin Harjo Jr (Absentee Shawnee, Seminole), and the late Tillier Wesley (Muscogee Creek).

            The Seminole Nation Museum is located in a beautiful building constructed of native stone in 1937 by the WPA to serve as the Wewoka Community Center. Since opening in the nearly four decades ago, the museum has hosted over a half-million visitors representing every US state and over 100 foreign countries.

            The museum sits upon the entire 500 block of South Wewoka Avenue (Main Street) in downtown Wewoka – just 69 miles east of Oklahoma City on I-40.  The museum’s campus includes land located in both the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma and the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. All agree the Seminole Nation Museum is special to the 3,430 residents who call Wewoka home.

            Since opening in the former Community Center in 1974, the museum has more than doubled the size of its facility to include 4000 square feet of display space, a research library, expanded arts and crafts center and an art gallery that regularly hosts traveling exhibits.

            “We look forward to expanding our event schedule to include sites outside of central Oklahoma,” said Vickie Norick, Chairman of the Red Earth Board of Directors. “This partnership with the Seminole Nation Museum is a tremendous opportunity for the Red Earth Art Center to share beautiful artwork with people who might not have the opportunity to visit the Red Earth Art Center in Oklahoma City.”

            In June 2019, the Red Earth Art Center reached an agreement with BancFirst that will relocate the small, yet active museum to the ground floor lobby of the BancFirst Tower in downtown Oklahoma City. BancFirst recently purchased the 36-story building formerly known as Cotter Ranch Tower and construction crews are currently working on extensive renovations to the downtown landmark.

            “While our Art Center is temporarily closed we are thrilled to work with museums and schools throughout the state to offer continuing programming to the public,” said Norick.

            Plans call for the Red Earth Art Center to reopen to the public in 2021 with their notable permanent collection of nearly 1,000 items of fine art including paintings, sculpture, pottery, basketry and the renowned Deupree Cradleboard Collection – considered the largest collection of its’ kind in the southwest.

            A major component of the downtown Oklahoma City Red Earth Art Center will continue to be a sales gallery featuring original Native artwork both contemporary and traditions from local and regional artists. A mission of the non-profit organization is to provide Native artists a vehicle to sell their art to the public.

            Both museums are noted for their award-winning marquis events. The Seminole Nation Museum founded and co-sponsors the Sorghum Day Festival, swelling the population of Wewoka tenfold annually on the fourth Saturday of October. The annual Red Earth Festival attracts thousands from throughout the globe each summer eager to experience the art and cultures that make Oklahoma special. Both events have received the prestigious Redbud Award for Outstanding Event by the Oklahoma Tourism & Recreation Department.

            The Seminole Nation Museum is open Monday-Saturday 10-5 pm or by appointment. It is closed on federal holidays. Admission is free, although donations are encouraged and accepted. Guided tours and special programs for groups are available.

            MVSKOKE VOICES Contemporary Native American Art is funded in part by the Oklahoma Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Both the Seminole Nation Museum and Red Earth Art Center are recognized as the region’s premier organizations for advancing the understanding and continuation of Native American traditional and contemporary culture and arts. 

For additional information, contact the Seminole Nation Museum at (405) 257-5580, www.seminolenationmuseum.org or [email protected].

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