Victoria McKinney

Contact Victoria McKinney
West Fork, AR
Tel: 479-409-8924
Echota Cherokee

About Victoria McKinney

Before Victoria McKinney embarked on her career as an award winning Native American potter and painter she held a wide variety of jobs that gave her, shall we say, a well-rounded work experience. She started work early at the age of 14 as a waitress at the local Scottish Inn in her hometown of Fayetteville, Arkansas. She soon found herself as the managing waitress who made out the work schedules for adults twice and three times her age. During her high school years Victoria was a member of a gymnastics team and the Pepper Squad. She graduated from Fayetteville High School in 1976 and attended one year of college at Hendrix University, sometimes called the "Little Harvard of the South."

Unable to decide on a major or career, Victoria decided to return to the work sector for more experience. After working as a dispatcher with the Department of Public Safety at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville she took those skills and became the dispatcher and booking officer for the City of Springdale's Police Department. After several years there she felt the need to get back to her "hippie" roots and took on the job that introduced her to pottery, an internship at a local Fayetteville pottery store. When that internship ended she felt it time to put down some more stable roots, which meant finding a better paying job in order to buy a vehicle and a house. The next few grueling years were spent as a truck route driver for a tobacco and grocery distributor (the only female in the tobacco chewing bunch), later becoming the manager of the grocery section. The only light at the end of that tunnel was the on-going relationship with her now husband, me! We will celebrate our 22nd wedding anniversary in October of 2008.

In 1986 Victoria started working as a clerk in the admissions office at the University of Arkansas, eventually specializing in the accepting of transfer work from other educational institutions. She worked at the U. of A. for ten years advancing up the administrative ladder, working for the Director of Human Relations and finally as the Administrative Assistant for the Director Of Women's Athletics, a very high profile position in sports crazy Arkansas. During that same ten-year period she married me, Tom, in 1986 and we had a beautiful (now we have to say "handsome" nineteen years later) baby boy named William in 1988. However, the pressures of the Administrative Assistant's position and the schedule Victoria was keeping in the Athletic Department was taking time away from her family. She was also beginning to feel the need for self-expression.

All of the frustrations that had been building up over time in the U of A Athletic department started to come to the surface and one evening Victoria and I had a long conversation. It became apparent to both of us that Victoria could not continue to work for the Women's Athletic Department and that she had to look at a major change in the direction of her life. I asked Victoria "What do you really want to do? What would make you happy?" Victoria told me that her true wish in life was to become an artist and a potter. "Then that is what you are going to do." I told her. Victoria worried about the loss of the income and the loss of benefits that would follow her quitting her position. "Screw the money, we will make things work somehow, one way or another," I said. It was truly a blind leap off of a very tall bluff because neither Victoria nor I knew what was going to happen.

Using skills Victoria had picked up at the pottery store years ago and her natural artistic talent, she began to reproduce motifs that had impressed her a few years before when she had taken an anthropology course while working at the U. of A. The course, "Indians of Arkansas" taught by Dr. Michael Hoffman, planted the seed that would grow into a passion for the artwork and culture of the prehistoric people that inhabited the Eastern Portion of what is now the United States, the Mound Builders. Before this class she never really thought about Indian art as anything more than what came typically from the Southwest. Dr. Hoffman referred her to books and people knowledgeable about the Mound Builders and Victoria researched and collected all of the images she could. She first began reproducing the motifs on pre-cast ceramics and took these first attempts to what she now refers to as "Duck and Bunny" shows, meaning anything with a duck, a bunny or other wildlife on it would sell regardless of its quality. Through the next five years and while attending "dues paying" shows (we still have nightmares about the Blue-Sky Mule Days and the Stockyard Days shows) Victoria gained more information about the Mound Builders, collected their motifs and received advise from other artists, including the suggestion that she start throwing her own pottery rather then relying on the pre-cast ceramics.

In 1997 Victoria began to apply for and to be accepted into more prestigious Native American art shows and juried artwork competitions. She now attends some of the most prestigious Indian Art Markets in this area including the Red Earth Native American Cultural Festival, the Eiteljorg Indian Art Festival, the Haskell Indian Art Market, the Heard Museum and Guild Indian Art Market, the Tulsa Indian Arts Festival and the Cahokia Contemporary Indian Art Festival where she has won many awards. In the last few years Victoria has expanded her repertoire to include paintings featuring the same Mound Builder motifs as are on her pottery. She has not only won awards for her paintings but she has also been included in the 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 Cherokee Heritage Calendars. She has also been the Featured Artist at a 1999 exhibition of her work at the Five Civilized Tribes Museum in Muskogee Oklahoma, the 2001 Creek Council House Indian Art Market in Okmulgee, the 2002 Tulsa Indian Arts Festival, the 2004 Gallery of the Plains Indian Art Exhibition and was chosen as the "T-Shirt" Artist for the Five Civilized Tribes Art Under the Oaks Indian Market in April of 2008.