This week’s post is by a Spring 2013 student in “Native American Art and Material Culture,” Kristen Enyart. Students in the class wrote about works by Native artists in the OSUMA collection, some of which were subsequently exhibited at the Malinda Berry Fischer Gallery, at the OSU Foundation.
Jonny Hawk, sometimes known as Johnson Lee Scott, is a Native artist who identifies with both the Creek and Seminole American Indian tribes. He was born on October 21, 1938 in Saskwa, Oklahoma and he currently resides in Oklahoma City. Jonny graduated from Sequoya High School in 1955 and then attended Oklahoma State University of Technology in Okmulgee, OK. He married Billey Louis Tiger in 1959 and they have seven children. His main pieces are works in acrylic, watercolor, and prints. He also is known to be a writer of short stories, poems, and songs. All of his pieces are very unique and have a special meaning. Many of his paintings are focused on the Trail of Tears.
Hawk’s work has been presented in many different exhibitions such as: Cherokee National Museum, the Five Civilized Tribes Museum, the Heard Museum, the Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonials, the All-Oklahoma Indian Artists Invitational, the Philbrook Museum of Art, the Indian Health Care Resource Center’s Tallasi Winter Festival, and the Five State Regional National watercolor show, where he was named Best of Show in 1978. When looking through OSU’s collection of Jonny Hawk paintings I noticed a constant display of emotion. The emotion expressed in his work as a whole is tremendous! The titles of his art only enlarge the emotion that is being put forth in the paintings.
This piece of artwork, That’s The Indian Problem Today, is an acrylic painting on a 10 ½” x 13 ½” canvas in a 19” x 22” wooden frame. The painting is undated. The painting consists of a sky blue background with the side view of a Native American male. It is unknown if this is a portrayal of a specific Native. The painting is very detailed, from the headdress feathers to the glare in his eyes. Just like many of Hawk’s paintings, it is a one-of-a-kind piece. It is very likely that this piece ties into his continuing symbolism of the Trail of Tears. This painting definitely relates to another painting by Jonny Hawk: Never Look Forward To Happiness…. is similar to this one but with different colors, slightly different headdress, and a different side view. By comparing the titles of these two paintings, I want to conclude that “the Indian problem today” is that they never look forward to happiness.