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Press Release

Release Date: May 08, 2017

by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office

  • Chickasaw photographer Paula Loftin adjusts a canvas print titled “Evening Run” displayed in her office. The professional shutterbug will bring her unique brand of photography to the Fourth Annual Artesian Arts Festival May 27 in Sulphur, Oklahoma.

ADA, Okla. – Paula Loftin is expanding her photography repertoire to include her Chickasaw and Choctaw heritage.

Her desire is to have an image of a Native warrior on display May 27 at the Fourth Annual Artesian Arts Festival held in Sulphur.

Titled “Out of the Shadows,” a Native American – armed with a flintlock rifle and attired in full warrior regalia – emerges into the sunlight from a dark forest background. Crouched in a grassy meadow, his weapon at the ready, the brave scans his surroundings for danger.

“Out of the Shadows” may be accompanied by another shot of a warrior and his horse face-to-face to illustrate the affection and importance of ponies to Native Americans.

She is not abandoning a lifelong love affair with galloping horses, lasso-twirling cowboys and wildflower-laden western landscapes. Loftin believes Old West imagery is best personified by Indians, cowboys, and horses.

“I like my photographs to tell a story,” Loftin explained. She understands “the story” may differ with each admirer who pauses at Booth 58 to admire her work. “I enjoy the notion my photography speaks differently to others. It is one of the thrilling aspects of photography as art.”

Loftin wants her craft to take admirers back in time. “My photographs illustrate how life was a long time ago. I love the western way of life and that way of life is disappearing,” the soft-spoken Chickasaw Nation employee laments.


Loftin’s fondness for photography began as a teenager in Grant, Oklahoma, a community established in 1889 at the behest of Frisco Railroad executives. Situated between Hugo, Oklahoma, and Paris, Texas, the 2010 census showed the community’s population at 289.

In 1979, Loftin purchased a point and shoot Kodak – a basic 35mm film camera – that automatically selects shutter and aperture settings based on specific lighting conditions. However, such a camera diminishes a photographer’s creativity.

“It didn’t take long before I discovered the camera’s limitations,” Loftin said with a smile.

Not satisfied with the Kodak, she purchased her first single lens reflex camera – a Chinon – and began experimenting and reading “every photography book I could get my hands on” in the Hugo Public Library, where she worked for a decade after graduating high school.

Learning about lens settings, speed and focal length, Loftin began exposing film with different settings to obtain the artistic qualities she desired.

Advanced technology ushered in digital photography for Loftin in 2006. She purchased a Nikon D-80.

No longer would she be relegated to developing film to see if the image she envisioned was captured on the frame. With the Nikon, she could examine the photo instantly to see if it needed to be lighter, darker or sharper.

“It is still a learning process,” she remarked about digital photography. “While I acquire information from the on-camera light meter, I make decisions about settings and judgments of image quality.” 


Horses dominate Loftin’s photography. Her equestrian interests were established by age three. She resides north of Ada and owns a horse. She rides with friends but not as often as she would like.

She discovered an artistic outlet in photography junkets where paid models ride horses, dress in period attire, wield lassos, and act out a bygone era of wrangling horses and herding cattle. The shoots are usually limited to a few photographers and have taken her to Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma and Wyoming.

The junkets have produced award-winning images, many of which adorn the walls of Carl Albert Service Center. Loftin’s landscape photography, as well as western photography, has been purchased by the Chickasaw Nation specifically for the center.

Loftin was awarded “Best of Show” in the Te Ata Fisher Chickasaw Nation Employee Art Show this year. Many first place citations have been earned from Southeast Art Show and Market (SEASAM) held annually in October at the Chickasaw Nation’s Annual Meeting and Festival.

Her photography is sought by private collectors. Loftin’s keen eye at capturing a moment of western life as it would have been in the 1800s astounds the admirer.

Clarity, action, and intimacy speak emotionally to art aficionados.

One photo, titled “Evening Run,” captures four horses in full gallop; manes and tails flowing freely, yet each hair is captured in full definition.

“It is one of my favorites,” Loftin said of “Evening Run.” She is so confident of exposures, she limits photo manipulation to Adobe Light Room. “I will use (Adobe) Photoshop about 5 percent of the time.”


In addition to large, professionally finished prints on canvas, Loftin will offer 8X10 and 11X14 prints for consumers at the Artesian Arts Festival. The prints may be purchased economically for admirers unable to spend hundreds for the larger art.

The Artesian Arts Festival is the fastest growing Native-themed art show in the nation. This year marks the fourth time it has been hosted by the Chickasaw Nation. Artists submit work and a panel of judges decide whose art is worthy of inclusion.

Loftin has displayed art three of four years, missing the festival’s debut to attend a seminar in Austin, Texas. In 2013, 34 artists comprised the entirety of the festival. This May, 116 artists are juried to take part.

On her website,, a plethora of professional quality photographs await viewers, from Native Americans to cowboys to horses to landscapes and sunsets.

“I am constantly framing photographs in my mind. It drives my friends crazy.”

About The Artesian Arts Festival

Hosted by the Chickasaw Nation at the Artesian Plaza, more than 100 esteemed artists representing 25 Native American tribes throughout the United States and Canada will be featured during the Artesian Arts Festival, Saturday, May 27. The Artesian Plaza is located adjacent to the Artesian Hotel and Spa, 1001 W. First Street. Festivities begin at 10 a.m. and end at 6 p.m.

For more information, contact the Chickasaw Nation Division of Arts & Humanities at (580) 272-5520, or by email at

Last Updated: 09/16/2016