Sunday, March 20, 2016

Indian Biography: Kiowa Five/Six:

Spencer Asah
From the Jacobson House website a brief history is provided of these innovative artists.  "THE KIOWA SIX:  The Native American artists; James Auchiah (1906-1974)Spencer Asah(1905/ 1910-1954)Jack Hokeah (1902-1969)Stephen Mopope (1898-1974), and Monroe Tsatoke (1904-1937) and Lois (Bougetah) Smoky (1907-1981) were young and they [were]Kiowa Tribal members from the Anadarko area of Oklahoma. Because of their talent and the opportunities afforded them at The University of Oklahoma, they became international celebrities. It is well-remembered that these young Kiowa artists were occasionally homesick for their Kiowa cultural heritage and that during those times they would gather at the Jacobson House to sing, dance and tell Kiowa stories.
Oscar B. Jacobson, a Swedish art professor at the University of Oklahoma sponsored them, but he did not want to overly teach them for fear he would effect their style.  Instead he provided the place for them the flourish.  Many of them were experienced dancers, or drummers and their art reflected this. These artists were using palettes and water color, which was a variation form the traditional native American style.
Lois Smoky
The reason they are sometimes listed as the Kiowa Five is that Lois Smoky left the group early.  She struggled against tribal tradition that frowned on women doing painted art.  She returned home and married, but still expressed herself through beadwork.  Her art is the most coveted.  
Kiowa Five without Lois Smoky
James Auchiah was the last to join the group.  He was talented form childhood, and became more interested in art over the years.  he was glad to join the group in 1927.  
Spencer Asah was the son of a tribal medicine man.  He grew up hearing tribal legends stories, which is reflected in his work.  He was also an accomplished dancer.
Steven Mopopo was perhaps the most prolific of the Kiowa Five artists.  He was the oldest of the group.  He was observed drawing designs in sand, so was taught to draw on tanned skins in the tribal fashion.  His art caught the eye of Jacobson and he was invited to be part of the group with four other tribal members.  
Jack Hokeah was raised by his grandmother and was talented form a young age.  He was conflicted between art and dance.  In his later life he did artwork on pottery produced by Maria Martinez.
Monroe Tsatoke was also very talented.  He was also a native singer.  He was very prolific as an artist, but became sick and he died young.
Steven Mopopo, Anadarko, Oklahoma Post Office
These six made a very large contribution to Native American art and there works are much in demand.

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