Winning Indian Heritage Collection on
Display at SSCC
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 ...
"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
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
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
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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