Press Release

Release Date: May 17, 2017

by Loné Beasley, Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office



  • Troy Jackson

Even at an early age, Troy Jackson’s future life calling was not in doubt. In his mind it was a single, laser-focused certainty. He wanted to be an artist. His only doubts would surface later as he struggled to balance that artistic creativity in a way that honored both his Cherokee and European heritages.

“I knew I wanted to be an artist as far back as first grade,” Jackson said from his home in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. “As a boy I spent a huge amount of time looking through books of both European and American masters’ works. One of my favorite artists is an Italian sculptor by the name of Gian Lorenzo Bernini who is credited with creating the Baroque style of sculpture.”

It wasn’t until Jackson earned his master’s degree at the University of Arkansas that he began to seriously incorporate Cherokee culture into his art. “When I was working on my master’s degree I became very interested in Asian pottery. Their work was so refined with their culture I started thinking how cool it would be if I had a culture and heritage that rich.”

It was then he recalled his own heritage. “I got to thinking, I do have something. I can carry on Cherokee art through the 20th and 21st century.”

Today his work is focused on the working class history of his family. “I consider this to be a tribute to both my Cherokee and European grandparents who shared and witnessed the Great Depression,” he said.

“Each were similarly affected by the economics of the United States. The resilience of these two very different families has now become my inspiration. As an artist, I want my work to shed light on the identity of these two cultures – not to separate them, but to join them together.”

A Jackson work that expresses this complex relationship is titled, “Am I Red and White or Am I White and Red?” Jackson said these are questions he asks himself to better understand who he is and where he came from.

“I am the product of a mixed family. This in itself portrays me as being a hybrid form. I simply approach content and subject matter as if clay form is a particular family member or someone that I have been or am now acquainted with. For the most part they are a genre of working class people, such as common workers, farmers and industrial employees who are a quality of direct expression with my identity.

“What I do is introduce clay with steel and connect it. The clay itself represents my Native history, whereas the steel is more associated with the European side of my family – and represents the industrial revolution and the effects it had on Native Americans and Europeans. I want my work to join these two cultures, not separate them.”

Asked about current projects, Jackson said a new body of work involves sculptured wall hangings what will protrude with three dimensional significance. “I am also incorporating color more than I have before. It adds emotional quality to the sculptures as well as introduces a knowledge of why color influences Cherokee art.”

Jackson is one of 116 elite Native American artists selected to showcase their creative talents at the Artesian Arts Festival in Sulphur, Oklahoma, Saturday, May 27.

Participants will be displaying art in such disciplines as painting, basketry, jewelry, sculpture, metalworking, bead work, photography, textiles and pottery.

A variety of musical entertainment is planned, as well as tribal dance demonstrations and regalia. Bands will provide continuous entertainment on two stages. The event is open to the public at no charge. Festivities begin at 10 a.m. and end at 6 p.m. at the Artesian Plaza located adjacent to the Artesian Hotel and Spa, 1001 W. First Street in Sulphur, Oklahoma. For more information call (580) 272-5520 or email artistinfo@chickasaw.net.

Last Updated: 09/16/2016