Tyra Shackleford and Margaret Roach Wheeler, fiber artists
April 6 – May 19, 2018
Artist Reception was held Sunday, April 8
Two women weave their life stories into new
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center exhibit ‘Textiles Transcending’
This show features the fiber artistry of award-winning Chickasaw artists, Tyra Shackleford and Margaret Roach Wheeler, April 5 – May 19.
Ancient handwoven techniques, looms, artifacts, history, culture and family are the tools by which the two women produce award-winning art. While many women may spend their entire lives researching their family history, hoping to discover who they are, both Tyra and Margaret follow their cultural heritage and what inspires them.
Every piece they produce tells a story – their story. They will share those stories in their own words and through their art when their show, “Textiles Transcending” opens in April.
One of Shackleford’s new pieces is Twin Turkeys. She was inspired and created her own pattern, based off two pieces of art: an Eagle design, and a Mississippian shell gorget that had a southeastern design. Shackleford creates all of her pieces in an ancient tradition of handweaving and also using the method strang.
“I take my inspiration from the weaving techniques themselves, pre-historic artifacts, Mississippian iconography, and Chickasaw culture and stories. Everything I create relates in some way to my culture and provides me a way to share my culture with the world,” Shackleford said. Married and a mom of two young children, ages 2 and 10, she balances her home life, work at the Chickasaw Nation and art. She said she probably won’t be a full-time artist until she retires, but her exhibit calendar is filled through all of this year and already has dates for 2019-2021.
For Wheeler, who has been a working artist for more than 40 years, this show is her biography. She is a Chickasaw-Choctaw descendant.
She creates her fashions and wearable art on a loom, weaving them with precise detail. One of her exhibit displays could be described as mixed media. To highlight the fabric of “In My Lifetime,” carved poles nearly 7-feet tall, serve as the base upon which the woven fabric is draped. Each pole represents a female in her life – her mother (at age 93), herself and her granddaughter (at age 3). On the pole representing her mother, is a woven shawl which includes found objects: Irish lace, and a Mexican brass lantern. Inside the lantern is a piece of cloth with the photographic image of her mother. Every vignette in the show tells a story, whether it is Tyra or Margaret’s work.
“My family was my inspiration for this show. I’m a storyteller, that’s what I do. I’ve been very blessed.” Wheeler’s most recent achievement came as a complete surprise. In March she was awarded the Oklahoma Governor’s Arts Award. In 2017, she also was one of six artists nationwide, selected to collaborate the creation of Miss Oklahoma Triana Browne’s outfit for Miss America. She considers herself semi-retired, but her schedule still has the boxes filled as if she were not retired. It includes overseeing her business, Mahota Handwovens, teaching workshops and several exhibits booked well into 2020.
Shackleford also has a demanding schedule, and both she and Wheeler are booked for the same exhibits and shows. Her honors include, but are not limited to: a first place and best of division in the Southwest Association of Indian Arts (SWAIA) Indian Market held annually at Santa Fe, New Mexico; a first place for her work in the Cultural Diverse category in the Southeastern Art Show and Market (2017); and a Best of Division, First Place and a Purchase Award in the 25th Eiteljorg Indian Market and Festival (2017).
Visit Shackleford’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TyraShacklefordArtist/
Visit Wheeler’s website: https://margaretroachwheeler.com/