Artist of the Cherokee Arts Center

Antonio Grant

Antonio (Eastern Band Cherokee) is an accomplished artist, singer and dancer from Cherokee, NC.  His art includes shell carvings, quillwork, beadwork, feather work, painted spirit horses, and powwow regalia.  He sings with a powwow drum, has won powwow dance competitions and performed with professional dance groups.  He dances with the Warriors of AniKituwah, the official ambassadors for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, giving cultural presentations and demonstrating social dances. Antonio began shell carving in 2010. His major awards include Best of Division (Jewelry) at Eiteljorg Indian Market in 2012, Best of Division (Cultural) and Best of Class (Jewelry) at Cherokee Art Market, and many first place ribbons.  He uses Mississippian images and symbols in his carved shell gorgets and earrings. He also works with quahog clamshells, commonly known as wampum, which is significant to eastern tribes. The purple and white shell is difficult to work with.  It was used as money and in making wampum belts, which tell our history and significant teachings. 

Clesta Manley

Clesta Martin Manley was born on her father's Cherokee Indian Allotment along the banks of Grand River in Northeast Oklahoma. Growing up among the beauty of the hills, streams, wild flowers and animals, the fascination to her creative spirit has never ceased.

Winning her first drawing contest in grade school sparked a lifelong challenge. After marriage and seeing her children through college, twenty years in banking and twelve years as a Country Gallery owner, she is finally reaching that challenge. The majority of her sales were through her gallery.

Through the years she attended art classes at Rogers State College and workshops among the leading art instructors. Clesta paints in oil, watercolor, acrylics, and pastels.

Crystal Hanna

Crystal apprenticeship with Anna Belle Sixkiller Mitchell – Master Potter and Cherokee Treasure. She has presented workshops for Gilcrease Museum, Five Civilized Tribes Museum, Cherokee Heritage Center, Creek Council House Museum, Cherokee Art Gallery, the Pocahontas Club, Summer school Indian ED programs and the Tulsa Public Library- Indian Resource Center programs as well as for individuals on a personal basis. She has shown her work and won many awards at major art shows across the country such as the Eiteljorg Museum Indian Art Market, The Heard Museum Fair & Market, Red Earth, Cahokia Museum Juried Art Show as well as Oklahoma Indian Summer Festival, the Tulsa Indian Art Market and the Cherokee Casino Art Show.  Her work is in several museums as permanent collections some of which are  The Bartlesville History Museum, Cherokee Heritage Center, Creek Council House Museum and the Cherokee Heritage Museum in Cherokee, NC and is included in many private collections across the country.  

Dan Mink

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Feather Smith-Trevino

Feather is a former Junior Miss Cherokee 2007-08 and a former Miss Cherokee 2008-09. She is a Bill Gates Millennium Scholarship recipient and is currently attending Northeastern State University double majoring in Biology.

Feather is a tour guide for the Cherokee Heritage Center working in the ancient village. She is a story teller, basket weaver, can demonstrate stickball and the making of the sticks and the balls, the blowgun, makes pucker toe moccasins, can do finger weavings, and clay bead necklaces.
 
Feather's first love is weaving baskets though. It is relaxing for her and she loves the challenge of new patterns. She prefers to work with flat reed to weave her baskets and make her Cherokee purses.

Harry Oosahwee

Harry Oosahwee was born in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. He is a self-taught artist and stone carver. His early influence was his mother who explained and demonstrated to him how Cherokees made clay animals and toys when she was a child.

Harry is a graduate of Bacone College and earned a Master's Degree from Northeastern State University. He is a highly independent and individualistic artist who devotes much of his time researching his proud heritage. Harry has been greatly influenced by the works of all the great Cherokee artists such as Dick West, Terry Saul,  Willard Stone, and Cecil Dick. His goal is to accurately portray his tribal traditions through symbolism in his paintings and stone carvings. Harry has received numerous awards for his work and his work can be found in private collections throughout the United States and abroad.  

Jeff Edwards

Jeff is an award winning Cherokee Graphic Artists who has worked for the Cherokee Nation for over 10 years. He is a language activist working with Education Services Language Technology Group. He has worked on numerous projects that have projected the Cherokee language into the global spotlight.

Jeff attended Haskell Indian Nations University and is currently attending Northeastern State University for his Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design. Awards include 2011 Catoosa Art Market Best in Division for Graphics, 2012 Honorable Mention Trail of Tears Art Show in Graphics, and 2012 Best in Show and 1st Place Cherokee Holiday Show in Graphics.

J. Ross Davis

J. Ross Davis was born at McAlester, OK, in 1967 and is the eldest of four children. He has lived in various places in Oklahoma, NW Arkansas, and in Georgia. He is married with two grown children and currently resides in the Cherokee Nation at Warner, OK.

J. Ross is a direct descendent of Cherokee Chief John Ross (4th Great-Grandson) and his first wife, Quatie. He is descended through their daughter, Jane Ross Nave, and her husband, Andrew Ross Nave. Their son, Andy Nave Jr. (Bub), married Julia Eagle, daughter of A-wah-hi-lah “Eagle,” a Cherokee Old Settler, and Pauline Eagle, a Cherokee Freedman. Andy Jr. and Julia's daughter, Jane Ross Nave Davis, is his Great-Grandmother.

J. Ross is an avid photographer and describes himself as a mid-level geek. He has been designing graphics and digital art for numerous years. He recently started painting and is incorporating that medium in his artwork as well. His desire is to create art through various mediums while promoting Cherokee traditions, symbolism, and culture. He draws inspiration from his love of nature and Cherokee heritage.

Jesse Hummingbird

Jesse, 3/4 Cherokee and a tribal member of the Cherokee Nation, was born in 1952 in Tahlequah, OK. He attended junior and senior high schools in Nashville, TN, and went on to study art at Watkins Institute, the University of Tennessee, and classes at The American Academy of Art in Chicago. He currently lives in Bisbee, AZ. He established himself as a successful printer, graphic artist, and commercial illustrator before becoming a full time artist in 1983. Jesse pursues both Cherokee and other Native American themes in his acrylic paintings. While painting contemporary images, Jesse paints in the traditional style of the Oklahoma Native painters. This “flat” style has no shadows, shading or blending of colors; each flat-colored area has an inlining of a different color and then a dark outline. He currently exhibits at approximately 18 shows during the year, primarily in the southwest. Jesse has won awards for his paintings at the Five Civilized Tribes Museum (Muskogee, OK), Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial (Gallup, NM), The Heard Museum (Phoenix, AZ), St. George Art Festival, Tesoro Foundation Art Market, Pueblo Grande Museum (Phoenix, AZ), and Santa Fe Indian Art Market.

Karen Berry

Karen grew up in Texas and currently resides in Garland, TX. She learned about Cherokee culture and art through her mother, Martha Berry, who revived the tradition of Cherokee Beadwork.

Karen loved gourd art through her history of wood working and painting. This medium was a natural progression, combining these talents. She incorporated pre-European contact and modern Cherokee designs into her work.

Karen currently grows her own gourds and is trying her hand a finger weaving also.

Ken Ketcher

Ken’s art style is mainly native profiles and includes animals, nature, events, native items and flying buffaloes. His impressionist style is pro dominate. Ken’s other medium is wood and stone sculptures. He also designs knives using diamond back rattlesnakes for the sheathes and he includes jungle weapons and Bowie knifes as part of his artistic endeavors. 

Kenny Henson

Kenny is ¾ Cherokee. He was born and raised in Tahlequah Oklahoma. Kenny currently lives on a small farm on the banks of the Baron Fork Creek in Adair County where he has his Art studio. He currently works for the Cherokee Nation in the Aerospace & Defense division as a design engineer, but his passion in life is painting and creating Southeastern themed art that depicts Cherokees during the early 1700’s - 1800s. Kenny’s paintings are inspired by stories that have been told to him by elders no longer with us but that live on through his Art. He also likes to paint Wildlife and Southwestern themed Art. Kenny said he has hundreds of ideas in his head that he wants to paint. Because of time constraints his current goal is to paint at least one painting a month as well as improving his skills as a Native American Artist. His goal is to retire from the corporate world, paint full time and open up his own Art Gallery. Kenny has been painting professionally about twenty years and has won numerous awards all over the United States.

Leslie Gates

As a child Leslie often drew horses which was her favorite subject. As she got older, she started working with watercolors, acrylic colored pencil and discovered other subject matters.

Leslie's gourd work has portrayed many subjects including horses and Native American themes with horses being her favorite subjects. Leslie is always studying and learning about her Cherokee ancestry. Gourds presented the challenge of a three-dimensional surface for Leslie. Many of the pieces are figural with some incorporating multiple gourds of different sizes along with additional embellisments such as seeds, feathers, beads, cloth and leather.

Leslie is a Trail of Painted Ponies artist and says it is a rewarding way of combining horses and her art. Leslie grew up in Oklahoma and later moved to southern Alabama in 1998.

Lisa Rutherford

Lisa Rutherford is a full time artist living on her family’s cattle ranch near Tahlequah, Oklahoma.  While proficient in many traditional art forms, her passion is 18th century and early 19th century Cherokee art and history. Her traditional pottery is made from native clay she digs and processes, hand-coils, and pit fires. She also makes the 18th century clothing and accessories that she wears for living history events, including trade shirts, leggings, wool wrap skirts, southeast appliqué beadwork, twined bags, and feather capes on a hand-tied net base. Oil painting is her latest endeavor, with a unique style that blends impressionism and realism.

Lula Elk

Lula was born and raised in a small community south of Stilwell. She was raised by her grandparents which were very traditional people. Her grandfather was the Chief of their Stomp Grounds.

Lula is a fluent speaker and a full blood Cherokee. She is married to James Mankiller and has five children. Lula has been doing traditional art for 25 years. She weaves baskets, does loom and finger weaving, beadwork, cornhusk dolls, and makes mini stickball sticks.

Marie Smith

Marie is a Cherokee / Choctaw artist. She loves photography, cultural crafts, and painting along with drawing. She works for the Cherokee Nation as a cultural specialist with the Cherokee Arts Center and the Spider Gallery. She made it her goal to teach her children cultural crafts and ways as they were growing up. Marie also coordinates the Cherokee Holiday Art Show held during the Cherokee National Holiday each year. 

Robert Shinn

Robert attended Washington University where he received a liberal Education in Art and Architecture. During his apprenticeships he began working closely with interior and architectural designers. He then developed a career in house painting, wall covering, faux finishing, antiquing, & stenciling. He has created interior features for clients which include Carol Burnett, Gene Hackman, Oprah Winfrey, and head football coach University of Texas, Mack Brown.

Robert has created paintings, murals, sculptures, and has had his work featured on the cover of Metropolitan Home and in Southern Living magazine. Robert works with leather, wood, mask making and Assemblage. He is fascinated by face painting cultures, outsider art, mask making traditions, graffiti artists, and the pottery traditions. He enjoys working with repurposed and recycled materials not only for environmental reasons but, because it connects him to the past.

Sally Williams

Sally Clausen Williams was born in Oklahoma but her family moved north so her father could farm. Her family eventually moved to Oregon where Sally graduated from high school, went to business college and started her first job at Oregon State University. Her hobby at that time was horses. Sally's parents introduced her to beading as a child and when her mother became interested in vintage beads and making her own jewelry she got Sally interested in them.

Sally says the beads kept "talking to her" and finally she started to collect supplies and learn techniques that didn't require warping a loom. Even if she isn't making anything, she is always buying and collecting beads. Today she continues to study techniques and patterns and hopes for inspirational ideas she can execute to satisfy her desire to create and to give pleasure to others as well. She says after she started beading the beads "never shut up".

Steve Mashburn

Steve likes the creativity of silver smithing. He likes to take a raw stone or rock and have it show him what it wants to be.

Most of Steve's work is in silver fabrications and includes rings, bracelets, pendants and earrings.

Verna Bates

Verna Bates is a registered citizen of Cherokee Nation (Oklahoma) and has worked in the arts for well over 18 years. She specializes in Gourd Art, creating one of a kind, traditional and contemporary Cherokee masks, gourd bowls, dippers and gourd animals. She also paints on canvas, enjoys making clay beads and pipes, plus designs contemporary jewelry. She tries to incorporate Cherokee culture or history in each piece of art that she completes…whether it’s via ancient symbols, the Cherokee alphabet or images. Sharing her Cherokee heritage is her utmost desire.

She owns “Gourds, Etc.” Art Studio, Locust Grove, OK which opened May 2009. The studio with small art gallery is located on their farm where her husband grows all of the gourds she uses in her art work. It is open to the public. However, it is suggested that visitors phone ahead to insure she is available.

Verna has had no formal art training, and feels very blessed to have the ability to produce pieces of art that others enjoy enough to purchase for their homes and collections. Her art has found homes all over the U.S. as well as abroad.

Contact info:

Phone: (918) 694-5274

Email: vbates@sstelco.com

Website, www.GourdsEtc.net

Tama Roberts

Tama was born and raised in Northeastern Oklahoma and still calls it home today.  As a citizen of the Cherokee Nation she feels not only is it her duty, however, but a necessity in life to create beauty out of the strangest of objects.  Using nature as her resource and guide she is able to look past the initial findings and look deeper.  Rescuing a gourd from its sleep, she scrapes away all of the mold and dirt, to reveal a truly splendid creation. Each one is truly unique, with variations of colors and shapes with which to work.  The introduction to gourds happened only a few short years ago, and came at a time that was very critical for her.  Even though she loved to draw and paint as a child, she had to put those desires away to survive in the business world.  Today Tama is happy to say that she has found the life/work/family balance that allows her to create.

Victoria Mitchell

Victoria learned traditional southeastern woodland style pottery making in 1990 from her mother, Anna Sixkiller Mitchell, a full blood Cherokee who revived the art in Oklahoma. Victoria said "I feel as if this is what I was meant to be doing. I love digging the clay, creating something new and carrying on the tradition my mother started".

Victoria is a native Oklahoman who lives on a cattle ranch with her husband near Welch, Ok. All the pottery and sculptures she makes is hand built using the coil method rather than a potter's wheel. The tools she uses are found or natural items like her ancestors would have used like smooth river stones, river cane sticks, bone utensils, gourd necks and handmade wooden paddles.

She has won many awards across the U.S. Her most recent honor is receiving the Cherokee National Treasures Master Craftsman award for her skill and knowledge of traditional Cherokee art forms and commitment to education & cultural preservation through her pottery.