Winners list: Oklahoma's Red Earth Festival honors Native American artists
A version of this story appears in the Sunday Life section of The Oklahoman.
Red Earth inspiration
Native American festival names 2020 award winners
SHAWNEE - When Lauretta Newby-Coker is creating her signature artworks, the gloves inevitably come off.
"I'll start with gloves on, but without you even realizing it, in a few minutes, those gloves are off because you can't grab ahold of stuff," said Newby-Coker, who is Choctaw.
The Noble resident has learned to live with the nicks and cuts she sustains while meticulously piecing together her elaborate mosaics, which are made from hundreds of hand-cut shards of colored and stained glass.
"It’s well worth it," she said.
Titled "Like a Rock," her shimmering mosaic of a teepee against a cloudy sky earlier this month earned the Grand Award at the 34th Annual Red Earth Festival.
"I was just so shocked. I've won first places ... but never a best in show," said Newby-Coker, who has participated in the venerable Oklahoma festival the past four years.
"I'm just proud to be here, let me tell you. But I was so flabbergasted when they called my name."
Although the long-running celebration of Native American art, dance and culture underwent several changes this year - it was postponed from early June to Labor Day weekend due to the coronavirus pandemic and moved from the Cox Convention Center in downtown Oklahoma City to the Grand Casino Hotel & Resort in Shawnee - the Red Earth Festival still honored several participating artists in a variety of categories at a Sept. 5 awards show.
Monica Silva Lovato's ceramic pot "Resilience" is tiny enough to fit in a child's palm, but the San Felipe Pueblo artist made sure it overflowed with meaning.
The pot's black-on-black clay and patterns and its colorful chip inlay base reflect longstanding Pueblo art traditions, while the twisting sterling silver stem represents the recent anniversary of the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, when the indigenous Pueblo people rose up against the Spanish colonizers in the province of Santa Fe de Nuevo México.
"It holds the hopes and prayers of all the people. ... It just follows the different struggles that the Pueblo people have gone through. Like we have the spiny oyster and the turquoise at the top that represent the ancient Puebloan trade routes," said the New Mexico-based artist. "I am one of eight traditional potters that are left in San Felipe Pueblo. My father ... is one of the other eight."
Her father, Ray Garcia, also known as "Ray Duck," has shown his pottery and jewelry at Red Earth for many years. This year, Lovato applied for a Red Earth emerging artist scholarship, which provided her a booth space of her own at no cost.
"This is my first year being an artist with my own booth. Usually, I tag along with my dad and I kind of help him out," said Lovato, who also creates pottery and jewelry "It's been amazing. It's surprising. I didn't plan on entering, and then kind of getting closer to the date, my dad was like, 'Well, you should make something to enter.' I'm really glad I did."
Westville resident Cody Poindexter, who is Muscogee (Creek) and Cherokee, also earned an emerging artist scholarship.
"It's to help them and encourage them to have a career in the arts," said Red Earth Communications Director Eric Oesch.
Lovato got extra encouragement when she earned first place in the festival's pottery/sculpture category with her "Resilience."
"Red Earth is actually going to be my only show for the year. I got a first place - and it's actually my first first place. So, Red Earth gets a lot of firsts for me. It's even better because my dad entered one of his pots and I beat him," Lovato said with a laugh.
"When the quarantine happened, I kind of lost a real big sense of my drive because there were no shows. Everything was getting canceled. ... I kind of went into a small depression as far as being an artist - and I know that's something that a lot of artists struggled with. I think that's really what ended up inspiring my piece."
Versatile Nakota Sioux artist Nelda Schrupp was inspired by the movement to raise awareness of the epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women, known as MMIW, to create her ""Missing and Murdered Spirit Honor Dresses."
She paired a dramatically fringed red-and-black woman's dress with a smaller black-and-white dress and won first place in the cultural items division.
"I made them see-through to represent their spirits, and there's a child (size) one because children are also stolen and murdered," Schrupp said. "I call them spirit dresses ... and I hope they bring a spirit of healing."
A nationally renowned North Dakota-based artist, Schrupp also was named the 2020 Red Earth Honored One, a recognition annually bestowed on a Native American master visual artist who has substantially supported American Indian art.
"I am excited. I hope to live up to it," she said.
RED EARTH FESTIVAL 2020 AWARD WINNERS
Grand Award - Lauretta Newby-Coker for "Like a Rock"
Katherine Upshaw Award - Yonavea Hawkins for "Red Star"
President's Award - Linda Kukuk for "Crow in Moonlight"
2020 Honored One - Nelda Schrupp
First - Nelda Schrupp for "Missing and Murdered Spirit Honor Dresses"
Second - Renee Hoover for "My Hidden Treasure"
Third - Yonavea Hawkins for "Sunahtiti Turtle"
First - Stuart Sampson for "On the Horizon 15"
Second - Anita Caldwell Jackson for "Seven Clans of the Cherokee"
Third - Daniel Worcester for "Miniature Fighting Knife"
Drawing, graphics and photography
First - Jon Tiger for "A Little Bird Told Me"
Second - Linda Kukuk for "Night Patrol"
Third - Dylan Cavin for "Field Mouse"
First - Abraham Begay for "Concho Belt"
Second - Toney Mitchell for "Blue Malachite Bolo"
Third - Abraham Begay for "Inlaid Necklace"
First - Ray Garcia for "Messengers of the Sea"
Second - Abraham Begay for "Bugle Bead Necklace"
Third - Clancy Gray for "Elephant Ring and Bracelet"
Painting - oil / acrylic
First - Michael McCullough for "Colors of Southwest"
Second - Gary Montgomery for "Spirit Guardians"
Third - Dylan Cavin for "McCurtain County"
Painting - watercolor
First - Jon Tiger for "Life Partners"
Second - Clancy Gray for "Emperor"
Third - Derek No-Sun Brown for "5 Horsemen"
First - Monica Silva Lovato for "Resilience"
Second - Karin Walkingstick for "Dewdrops"