Opening exhibition at Muscarelle traces roots of contemporary Native American art

  • Kiowa FivePaintings by the Kiowa Five depicting aspects of traditional Kiowa culture on display September 10 - November 13 at William & Mary's Muscarelle Museum of Art.

    Painting by Stephen Mopope

    Kiowa Five

An exhibition tracing the enduring artistic tradition of the American Indian artists known as the Kiowa Five, opens Saturday, Sept. 10, at the Muscarelle Museum of Art at the College of William & Mary.  In Memory Still: A Kiowa Legacy in Art will be on display through Sunday, Nov. 13.  An opening reception and lecture by Dr. Mark White with the Fred Jones Jr. Museum will be held from 5 – 8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 9.  The reception and lecture are free and open to the public.

The remarkable artwork and story of the Kiowa Five – Spencer Asah, James Auchiah, Jack Hokeah, Stephen Mopope, Monroe Tsatoke, and Lois (Louise) Smoky – depicts aspects of traditional Kiowa culture, and the artists and their work gained international acclaim in the early 20th century. Today, their work continues to influence contemporary American Indian artists.

The Kiowa Five received their earliest art instruction from former Fort Marion tribe elders whose ledger art depicted narrative drawings and paintings on paper or cloth. Under the mentorship of University of Oklahoma Professor Oscar Jacobson, the Kiowa Five were among the first Native artists to be artistically trained in a university setting.

At the end of their art instruction, Jacobson released a portfolio of the artists’ combined work entitled, “Kiowa Indian Art,” garnering them international attention.  This renowned portfolio will be on display as part of the exhibition.  

Contemporary Native artists have adopted many stylistic elements of Kiowa Five art, while also incorporating modern themes and techniques. The exhibit will feature a number of contemporary Native American artists such as Acee Blue Eagle (Creek- Pawnee-Wichita), T.C. Cannon (Kiowa-Caddo-Choctaw), Dolores Purdy (Caddo) and Thomas Poolaw (Kiowa, Delaware), who continue to draw on the Kiowa Five’s legacy of expressing culture through art.

The Muscarelle Museum of Art is located on Jamestown Road on the campus of the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va. The Museum is open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and noon until 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The Museum is closed on Mondays. Docent tours are available at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sundays, and other times as announced. Admission is $5, and additional fees for special exhibits may apply. Admission is free for Museum members, William & Mary faculty, staff, and students, and children under twelve. For more information about this exhibit or the Museum in general, please call 757-221-2700 or visit www.wm.edu/muscarelle.