Chickasaw artist Daniel Worcester named 2013 'Red Earth Honored One'


OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Chickasaw artist Daniel Worcester, Ardmore, was recently feted as “2013 Red Earth Honored One” during the 27th Annual Red Earth Festival. Worcester was honored during his 20th year to participate in the Red Earth Festival.

Selected annually, the Red Earth Honored One is a Native American master visual artist who has supported and influenced the Native American artistic community and has a continuing involvement and participation in their art form.

“I am humbled and excited to be named as the Honored One,” Mr. Worcester said. “Red Earth has a great legacy, and to be recognized along with the other talented artists who have been named the Honored One before me, is very humbling and overwhelming.”

An accomplished blade smith, Worcester uses traditional methods of forging “neo-traditional” art pieces from a variety of materials including dominoes, billiard balls, sterling silver utensils and even old wagon springs.

Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby said that Daniel Worcester is very deserving of the honor.

“We congratulate Daniel on earning this distinction. He is a renowned artist whose work has been held in high regard by the Chickasaw Nation and the Red Earth Festival for decades,” said Gov. Anoatubby. “Daniel epitomizes the creativity, adaptability and determination which have long been hallmarks of Chickasaw culture. His ingenious ability to create knives which combine beauty and functionality helps bring to mind the centuries-old Chickasaw tradition of creating useful everyday items which are also works of art.”

Mr. Worcester was also honored when his Red Earth Art Show entry entitled “Big Fish”- a knife fashioned from a 1930s Ford Automobile wrench, billiard balls and dominoes - won the “President’s Award” in Cultural Items – Utilitarian. Another knife, “Cloud” earned first place in the same category.

Mr. Worcester’s art was included in the Museum of Arts and Design’s traveling exhibit of Native American art, thanks to Red Earth.

As part of the Changing Hands 2 exhibit, a one-of-a-kind Worcester knife was on display in New York, Indiana, Florida, Alaska, and Minnesota, as well as the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa.

Ellen Taubman , co-curator of Changing Hands 2 saw Mr. Worcester’s work at Red Earth and invited him to be a part of the exhibition.

Since its inception in 1987, Red Earth has been recognized as the region’s premier organization for advancing the understanding and continuation of Native American traditional and contemporary culture and arts.

In the two-decades he has participated, Worcester has witnessed Red Earth develop and become a nationwide tradition, attracting a variety of different and talented artists and collectors.

“I am a firm believer that we create our own traditions. Most of my work is “neo-traditional. I like to incorporate found materials with new designs. As long as you incorporate new designs it never gets stale.”

Using re-claimed steel from junk yards, old farms implements or leaf springs for the blade, Worcester crafts handles from dried corn on-the-cob, dominoes, poker chips, wood and other materials he is inspired to use.

“I also incorporate sterling silver in almost every knife I make.”

Mr. Worcester’s work has won many awards at major art shows, including eight first-place awards from the Santa Fe Indian Market in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

He has participated in many Chickasaw Nation-sponsored events and has lent his knowledge and expertise to programs supporting Chickasaw art and artists.

Mr. Worcester was inducted into the Chickasaw Hall of Fame in 2009.

He follows a time-honored tradition practiced by artisans of long ago that used their work and passed it down to the next generation to be used and admired.

At a young age, Mr.Worcester went to school to learn to make knife blades after learning to make spurs from his father, D. D. Worcester.

Now, his 29-year-old son, James, is carrying on that tradition, and participates in the Southeastern Art Show and Market Show.

Despite the accolades and awards, Mr. Worcester doesn’t consider himself at the pinnacle of his art work.

“My style has evolved over the years, and it is constantly changing. I am not at the final destination right now, and I am constantly evolving.”

Daniel Worcester is the grandson of Arlington Worcester and Nora Colbert, both Chickasaw original enrollees.

About Red Earth

For more than 30 years, Red Earth has been recognized as the region’s premier organization for advancing the understanding and continuation of Native American traditional and contemporary culture and arts. The Red Earth Museum & Gallery in downtown Oklahoma City hosts a diverse and changing schedule of traveling exhibitions and is custodian of a permanent collection of more than 1,400 items of fine art, pottery, basketry, textiles and beadwork – including the Deupree Cradleboard Collection, one of the finest individual collections of its kind in North America.

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