About A. Wayne Earles
Born Caddo in Hinton, Oklahoma which is near Red Rock Canyon with all its Sandstone cliffs, and raised to age eleven on a farm east of there with washed sandstone creeks, I often wondered if you could chip out pieces of sandstone and carve things. Not encouraged in this by my parents, and probably rightfully so, I never attempted to do this. However, I guess it was always an unexplored idea and desire in the back of my mind, which is most likely the reason I finally started carving stone. Stone collecting and Arrowhead hunting have also been an enjoyment for me, even beyond my childhood years.
Art has always been a part of my life, all types of art and at the age of nine I sold my first commissioned drawing for a dollar…a Buffalo from colored pencil, requested by a classmate who saw my black & white pencil drawing of this animal. In high school, art classes were my favorite, resulting in awards and nomination by my art teacher for an art position at a local store. Unfortunately, that job never became available because the incumbent decided not to leave. I sometimes think that if I had gotten that job, then I may have gone on to pursue an art education and career. Not being the case, I attended the University of Oklahoma receiving a Bachelors of Science degree since I felt that this would provide me a more likely means of making a living. My college education did include a few art classes, which helped somewhat to appease the need to express my art.
After graduation I worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Anadarko and Oklahoma City for six years in Vocational Guidance and Employment Assistance before a promotion into Human Resources with Indian Health Service, from which I retired after more than thirty-eight years of federal service. During my federal career, I developed an interest in photography from many family vacations to the Southwest exploring most of the Native American ruins and cliff dwellings while visiting as many museums and art galleries as possible. I thoroughly enjoyed displaying my photography at a few Arts Festivals in the Oklahoma City, Norman and Edmond area but eventually went back to just enjoying photography during family vacations.
Now, after my two sons with Bachelors of Fine Arts from private colleges in Georgia began doing art and getting into art festivals & galleries, it has rekindled my desire to again do art. So, this time I chose stonework, probably from those unexplored childhood ideas. My research of Canada, New Mexico, Kansas and of course locations throughout Oklahoma has provided learning, resources and the establishment of valuable contacts. Since both my sons have researched Caddo Art & Culture, their art explores both the beautiful ancient traditional Caddo designs and some contemporary variations of these artistic designs. The stonework (and I call it this rather than sculptures because I have not yet had sculpture training or education) that I do is carving of the softer type stone. The plan for my art is to create Caddo stonework inspired from discovered ancient Caddo lithic (stone) artifacts. However, I also do engravings on some of this stonework, of the beautiful, artistic and often intricate designs found on ancient Caddo pottery, shell and other artifacts. For my stone jewelry, I have chosen to engrave traditional and contemporary variations of ancient Caddo art designs, again found on pottery, shell & other artifacts.
The first display of my art was in April, 2015 at the Caddo Festival held in the History Center, Oklahoma City. Later in April 2015, I was asked to present my art during the Caddo Culture Day of the Caddo Mounds State Historic Site in Alto, Texas, receiving a $500 dollar stipend for this event. My first entry into art competition began with the Artesian Arts Festival-Sulphur, Oklahoma in May 2015 and then the Red Earth Festival-Oklahoma City in June 2015. At the Artesian Arts Festival I received a 1st place award in the Cultural (Weaponry) category and at Red Earth I received a 3rd place award for the Cultural division. After this, I was accepted into the Haskell Indian Art Market in Kansas, a non-competitive festival but one with the most lucrative sales of all festivals entered. I closed out 2015 with SEASAM in October winning 1st place in Cultural-Weaponry. For 2016, I again displayed my art at the Caddo Festival, the Caddo Culture Day with another $450 stipend invite and my two art entries were accepted into the Trail of Tears Art Show in Tahlequah. In May, 2016, I received a 1st place award in Cultural/Weaponry at the Artesian Arts Festival and in June at Red Earth, I was honored with a 3rd place award in the Cultural category. For July 2016, I qualified for and attended the Northwestern State University Folklife Festival in Natchitoches, Louisiana. To close out 2016, I also was accepted into the Cherokee National Holiday Art Show, SEASAM and the Cherokee Art Market.
To begin 2017 I was asked to display my art in the Chickasaw Nation’s Contemporary Caddo Art Exhibition from March 3rd through April 7th that included a $400 contract award. I was also awarded a $400 stipend to show my art in April on Caddo Culture Day at Caddo Mounds in Alto, Texas. This year I was again invited to display my art again at the Caddo Festival/Symposium in April at Sam Noble Museum in Norman, Oklahoma. My first official publication of my art was in 2Sculpt’s 2017 annual catalog showing my first Monolithic Axe- “P’-i-ta-u-ni-wan’-ha” (To have power from), winner of two first place & one 3rd place awards. In the summer 2017 issue of First American Art magazine, a photo of this Axe and information on me was part of a feature article on Spiro Mounds. In May at the Artesian Arts Festival, I was honored to receive a 2nd Place award in Weaponry, in June I received a 1st place Cultural Art award at Red Earth and in September I received a 3rd place award for Jewelry (Stone) at SEASAM. In December, I was accepted into the Jacobson House Holiday Art Market in Norman, OK.
For 2018, I displayed my art at the Caddo Festival/Symposium at Sam Noble Museum, the Caddo Culture Day at Caddo Mounds State Historical Site in Alto, Texas, the Artesian Arts Festival in Sulphur, Oklahoma, Red Earth in Oklahoma City, the Cherokee Art Market in Tulsa, SEASAM in Tishomingo, Oklahoma and at the Jacobson House Winter Market in Norman, Oklahoma. At SEASAM I placed 1st in Cultural-Weaponry.
For 2019, I was one of seven Caddo Artists selected to be featured in the Caddo Contemporary: Present & Relevant Exhibition from 1/24-3/24/19 at the Cole Art Center, Stephen F. Austin State University. For a requested art presentation at this year’s Caddo Conference at the University of Central Arkansas, I received a $300 grant. Display of my art was also rewarded with a $400 contract at the annual Caddo Culture Day, Caddo Mounds State Historical Site. I was accepted for the Artesian Arts Festival and Red Earth, but had to drop out since all my art was lost in the Caddo Mounds tornado. After recovering some of my art and recreating it, I entered SEASAM with a 1st place honor in Cultural-Weaponry. In addition, the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum purchased two of my Cultural artworks- my 1st Monolithic Axe and my 2nd Ceremonial Mace for their permanent collection and for their Spiro Exhibition which will also be a traveling exhibit to other major museums out of state. While most recently the Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas purchased my 19” Ceremonial Mace that was broke in half by the tornado, for the Caddo Mounds State Historical Site.
Besides providing an outlet for my own art drive, I hope that my stonework might also catch the eye and interest of some Caddo youth, making them realize how very intricate and beautifully artistic their own ancient Caddo pottery, shell & other artifact designs are. Hopefully, this might inspire them to the extent that they would pursue the continuation of some type of Caddo art whether it is pottery, shell, stonework or other. However, it would also be rewarding to see my art inspire even youth from any tribe to start learning and doing their own tribe’s art.