CATOOSA, Okla. – Speaking at the 2023 Cherokee Art Market awards dinner on October 13, Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. addressed the artists, saying, “What you do reflects in so many ways the highest aspirations of the Cherokee people. In some ways, it reflects some of our great concerns, but it reflects what a great Cherokee society can be and should be.”
The juried market showcases the work of more than 150 artists representing more than 50 federally recognized tribal nations. This year marks its 18th year at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tulsa, located in Catoosa, Oklahoma, on the Cherokee Nation Reservation.
Best of Show: Demos Glass (Cherokee Nation), Two Realms
Demos Glass (Cherokee Nation) received the 2023 Best of Show award for his Two Realms, a 5-foot tall, fabricated steel sculpture depicting the iconic Southeastern serpent. The sculpture is comprised of powder-coated steel, stainless steel, ceramic, and wood. Glass describes its creation as the culmination of time and learning.
“Art always tests your patience and will,” Glass says. The piece was finished the night before the competition. “It’s kind of like a Frankenstein piece. I’ve been working on it in pieces, letting my skill develop. I could see where I wanted to end up, but I had to go to school and continually train to get good enough to execute the idea. I wanted to bring a Southeast design alive to the point where this character would have life, to enforce the idea that these characters in our stories are actually real.”
Click on thumbnail to view larger image. All photos by Stacy Pratt, PhD (Mvskoke). Information on the market and a complete list of winners are available at online.
Class 1–Painting Drawing, Graphics & Photography: Bryan Waytula (Cherokee Nation), The Grass Dancer
Class 2–Sculpture: Demos Glass (Cherokee Nation), Two Realms
Class 3–Beadwork/Quillwork: Pati Belgarde (Turtle Mountain Chippewa), Mona Lisa
“I dreamt about her,” says Belgarde. “I envisioned her as telling the story of our Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW). She represents all of our women who are missing and murdered. They are not forgotten, and we need to go out there and make it known to everyone.”
Class 4–Basketry: Michael Dart (Cherokee Nation), Wild Thang
Class 5–Pottery: Troy Jackson (Cherokee Nation), Cherokee Rose
Class 6–Textiles: Alberta Henderson (Navajo), Majestic
Class 7–Jewelry: Abraham Begay (Navajo), Squash Blossom Necklace
Class 8: Diverse Art Forms: General B. Grant (Eastern Band Cherokee), Today’s Medicine
Anna Mitchell Award: Tama Roberts (Cherokee Nation), Hopeful
“It’s a huge honor to receive this award, as was working on the Anna Mitchell Cultural Center,” says Roberts, who designed the center’s incredible chandelier, among other things. “Learning about her style and how she put pottery first and pushed it to the forefront is so inspiring to me.”
Award: Troy Jackson (Cherokee Nation), Cherokee Rose
“To get this award is humbling, and I’m really appreciative,” says Jackson. “So many artists were inspired and taught by her. I never knew Anna Mitchell, but I feel a connection because I see her work in so many artists today. She brought our pottery back to life.”
Culture Keeper Award: Hollis Chitto (Mississippi Choctaw/Laguna and Isleta Pueblos), Napakanli Um Okla Imma (Flowers for My Family)
Innovator Award: Monica Silva Lovato (Kewa), Hope for the Future
Jesse Hummingbird Legacy Award: Michael Toya (Jemez), Nature’s Medicine
Native American Art Magazine Editor’s Choice Award: Pati Belgarde (Turtle Mountain Chippewa), Mona Lisa
Xayleigh Torix (Muscogee), Deer in Arrowhead
“My dad likes to go hunting, and that inspired this piece,” says Torix. “This morning, my dad was out in the woods hunting when I found out that I won this award. He came home so we could come to the awards dinner.” Xayleigh is in seventh grade at Warner Public Schools in Oklahoma, and says her art teacher, Shelly Beck encouraged her.
Maelee Thomas (Cherokee Nation)
“I love nature, and I want to incorporate it in my pieces,” says Thomas. “I’ve always been inspired by my grandpa. I saw how he’s added flowers to his past pieces, and I wanted to show that I am inspired by him.” Thomas made her piece at the Cherokee Arts Center in Tahlequah. Her grandfather is 2023 Anna Mitchell Award recipient Troy Jackson.