“Touch the Earth,” the winning artwork, will be only display along with the entire poster collection throughout November at SSCC’s south campus in Fincastle.


Kathy McClure Sturch

DHS Class of 1961


Winning Indian Heritage Collection on Display at SSCC

Model for winning piece was part herself and part her father

When artist Kathy Sturch decided to enter the annual American Indian Heritage Month poster contest; she picked up her paintbrush and ... researched.

"The theme was 'Conservation. Our Passion. Our Heritage,'" she said. "While doing research for that piece, one overriding theme was evident: the Great Spirit created earth and man."

A member of the Choctaw Nation living in Durant, Okla., Sturch won the 2008 national competition. She titled her painting "Touch of Earth," illustrating the theme's connection to the Choctaw's kinship with all creatures, earth, sky and water.

To commemorate American Indian Heritage Month, Sturch's winning piece - along with the entire poster collection - will be on display throughout November at Southern State Community College's south campus in Fincastle.

Winning artist describes process of creating painting

Sturch describes the artistic process of creating the award-winning poster: "Many people asked me about the model for the painting. It was partially me standing by the mirror with a shawl wrapped around my shoulders. Difficult to paint that way, but one does what one must for art. No, I don't have flowing gray hair and I'm not an ancient one yet. I used my dad's features and aged them (he only lived to age 42).

"The background includes elements that are found in southeastern Oklahoma and probably many other parts of the United States. Yes, the Indian paintbrushes are out of season, but they were included as symbolic of the sturdiness of the Indian, always surviving and thriving even in difficult 'soil.'

"The Choctaw people passionately love the earth. The ancient ones walked barefoot, sat and lay on the ground because it was good to touch the earth. The old Choctaw believed the Great Spirit created the earth and all the creatures that drink from her bounties and listen to her whispers. The Choctaw's passion and kinship with all creatures of the earth, sky and water continues today. The earth nourishes and provides for man.

"Man must care for the earth and do it no harm ... If the earth dies, man dies."


Natural Resources Conservation Service sponsors annual competition

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) annually recognizes and celebrates the many different cultures to which they have the opportunity to offer their services and programs, including American Indians. November has been designated as American Indian Heritage Month, providing an opportunity to make people aware of the history of American Indians and their contributions to the world.

One of the ways NRCS nationally celebrates American Indian Heritage Month is by distributing a poster created by an American Indian artist. Each year, artists from selected states have the opportunity to exhibit their talents on a national level. The South Central Region - which includes Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas - was chosen for the 2008 American Indian Heritage Month poster competition, with NRCS Arkansas the lead state to oversee the poster contest.

A panel of judges made up of Arkansas NRCS employees and Oklahoma State Conservationist Ron Hilliard made up the panel for this year's poster contest. The artist must capture the selected NRCS theme for the poster in their artwork. The theme for this year's poster competition was "Conservation. Our Passion. Our Heritage."

SSCC to display collection every November for American Indian Heritage Month

The SSCC Learning Resources Center (LRC) has collaborated with the local NRCS affiliate - The Ohio Valley Resource, Conservation and Development (OVRC&D) office, located in the Appalachian Gateway Center at the college's south campus - to recreate the entire 19-year NRCS collection of American Indian art to the local community.

SSCC is developing a digital resource commons, which is a part of a larger statewide effort to digitize local collections. The LRC maintains this digital commons and the first contribution was the entire American Indian Heritage Month poster collection. Access to the digital images of this art can be found at the SSCC Digital Resource Commons Web site.

The LRC and OVRC&D are also collaborating to provide a traveling exhibit of the American Indian Heritage Month poster collection. This exhibit will be on display at a Southern State campus every November during American Indian Heritage Month and will be made available for checkout to area schools, libraries and other organizations upon request. The college's south campus in Fincastle will host the first exhibit this November.

For more information about the American Indian Heritage Month poster collection, contact Louis Mays, LRC coordinator, at 1-800-628-7722 ext. 3580 or John Kellis, OVRC&D coordinator, at 937-695-1293.




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