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Choctaw-Chickasaw painter Norma Howard to bring talent to festival

STIGLER, Okla. – A decision to show her artwork at the 1995 Red Earth Festival was a turning point in the life of Chickasaw/Choctaw artist Norma Howard.

She not only placed first in watercolor and third in painting at the premier Oklahoma City festival, her art sold out before lunch.

Since that fateful show in June 22 years ago, Howard has participated and been honored in art shows and exhibitions including Santa Fe Indian Market, Southeastern Art Show and Market, the traveling exhibit "Return from Exile: Contemporary Southeastern Indian Art" and the Greater Tulsa Indian Market. She has also been the featured artist at several public spaces throughout Oklahoma.

Howard will once again participate in the 2017 Artesian Arts Festival, May 27 in Sulphur, Oklahoma.

A self-taught water colorist, Howard depicts the traditional culture of the Chickasaw and Choctaw people in what has been described as Native American pointillism style.

"My inspiration will always be to tell my ancestors' story and honor the way they lived," said Howard.

Howard, a Stigler, Oklahoma, native, was born in 1958 on the homestead established by her maternal grandparents in 1903. She still lives on that land-fewer than 300 yards from where she was born.

Deeply rooted to her Mississippi ancestors, Howard records, with great detail, the traditions of the past and present in her culture, transporting the viewer to an earlier time by capturing moments of everyday life for the Chickasaw and Choctaw people.

Her masterpieces portray anything from a stickball game, to hunting and fishing scenes, to even a grandmother stitching a star quilt on a porch.

"These subjects about how people survived in hard times and in everyday life that every tribe can relate to, wherever they lived," Howard said. "People tell me it's the details that draw them into my paintings and capture their feelings."

Howard's style recalls the pointillism of impressionists, but instead of dots, she painstakingly layers tiny, basket weave brush strokes to produce a vibrant depth of color rarely seen with watercolors.

Her basket-weaving brush stroke style has won her numerous awards, including the "Best in Show," for the Masters division at the Five Tribes Museum.

"I am most proud of these awards because I am competing against the best artists in the business," Howard said.

She keeps her work close, not producing prints and the originals only leave her home to go with her to one of the few shows she attends, or to a buyer.

The Artesian Arts Festival will be at the Artesian Plaza located adjacent to the Artesian Hotel and Spa, 1001 W. First Street, Sulphur, Oklahoma. Festivities begin at 10 a.m. and end at 6 p.m.

The Artesian Arts Festival is the fastest growing Native-themed art show in the nation. More than 100 Native American artists, many nationally and internationally acclaimed, will be highlighted at the festival.


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