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Press Release

Release Date: April 30, 2018

by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office

  • Chickasaw textile artist Margaret Roach-Wheeler accepts a Governor’s Arts Award for Excellence in the Arts from Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin during a recent ceremony at the State Capitol. Photo courtesy of the Oklahoma Arts Council.

  • Margaret Roach Wheeler works in her studio at the ARTesian Art Gallery, Sulphur. Ms. Wheeler is one of the featured Native American artists in the upcoming Artesian Arts Festival, May 26 in Sulphur.

OKLAHOMA CITY – Celebrated Chickasaw textile artist Margaret Roach Wheeler, who recently received a Special Recognition Award for her unique contribution to the arts, will be a featured artist during the fifth annual Artesian Arts Festival May 26 in Sulphur, Oklahoma.

A world-renowned Chickasaw weaver, fiber expert, and textile artist, Ms. Wheeler, of Sulphur, was among 14 individuals and five organizations honored Feb. 28 for contributions to the arts in Oklahoma during the 42nd Governor's Arts Awards.

Gov. Mary Fallin and the Oklahoma Arts Council presented the awards during a ceremony at the state Capitol.

Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby said Ms. Wheeler is very deserving of this recognition from the Oklahoma Arts Council and the State of Oklahoma.

“Margaret is dedicated to sharing her talent and knowledge to help preserve and revitalize the art of the Chickasaw people,” Gov. Anoatubby said. “Her creativity, ability and determination to learn about ancient weaving techniques have enabled her to create outstanding art which represents Chickasaw culture throughout the world.”

Ms. Wheeler is a central figure in the preservation and perpetuation of a traditional art form dating back to pre-Columbian America.

Her career began in 1977 with a foray into handwoven clothing designed and crafted in Native American styling.

Ms. Wheeler’s inspiration is derived from extensive research, which has occasionally led her overseas and which resulted in a Research Fellowship at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.

“Creating and producing art has been has been one of the driving forces in my life. To receive an award for doing something that you are passionate about is both humbling and gratifying,” Ms. Wheeler said.

“I am so deeply appreciative to the Oklahoma Arts Council for honoring me with a Special Recognition in The Governor’s Arts Awards, it is a great honor.”

Ms. Wheeler’s work has been shown in exhibitions across the country and is in the collections of several museums. It has earned numerous awards at reputable festivals.

In 2006, Wheeler employed her craft in developing a theater production on Chickasaw history and culture titled “Lowak Shoppala”.

In 2010, she was inducted into the Chickasaw Nation Hall of Fame.

Potentially one of the most significant aspects of Wheeler’s career is her investment in passing along her knowledge through workshops and seminars often conducted at the ARTesian Gallery and Studios in Sulphur.

More recently, she opened Mahota Studios, a weaving co-op where 11 weavers are currently producing work for the ARTesian Gallery and Studios, 100 West Muskogee Ave., Sulphur.

Mahota Studios, the art of Ms. Wheeler and the co-op weavers will be featured during the Artesian Arts Festival.

About the Governor's Arts Awards

The Governor's Arts Awards is an annual event recognizing individuals and organizations whose efforts have impacted the arts in their communities or throughout the state.

First awarded in 1975, the awards are presented by the Governor during a special ceremony at the Oklahoma State Capitol.

During the 2018 ceremony, Wanda Jackson was designated an Oklahoma Cultural Treasure.

A two-Grammy Award nominee and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Ms. Jackson is just the 13th person to be named a state Cultural Treasure. The first, in 1987, was Chickasaw performer Te Ata Thompson Fisher.