the contemporary artistry of chickasaw nation peoples

Every time I think I have the state of #Mississippi mostly figured out, I learn something new. Every time. As I’ve learned since moving here 2 1/2 years ago, Mississippi was home to more than a dozen Native American tribes–from the Pascagoula tribe on the Gulf Coast to the Tunica tribe in the Delta. The largest tribe was (and still is) the Choctaw. The second largest? The Chickasaw.

Before their forced removal in the 1830s, the Chickasaw occupied northeastern Mississippi, with villages located between the headwaters of the Yazoo and Tombigbee rivers. The Chickasaw were skilled war makers, hunters, and gatherers. They had highly developed ruling systems. The present-day Chickasaw Nation occupies 13 counties in south central Oklahoma, with its capital in Tishomingo, and its people, culture, and traditions thrive. Chickasaw artists also thrive, as I found out yesterday at the Mississippi Museum of Art. The MMA has an exhibition titled Visual Voices: Contemporary Chickasaw Art, and I loved what I learned.

Painter B.L. Hensley interprets Chickasaw leaders and peoples through a cool lens.

Mississippi Museum of Art Visual Voices Contemporary Chickasaw Art B.L. Hensley Jackson Mississippi

Designer Maya Stewart incorporates buckskin as part of her sculptural work.

Mississippi Museum of Art Visual Voices Contemporary Chickasaw Art Maya Stewart Jackson Mississippi

Joanna Underwood Blackburn uses ochre-colored clay and steel to resurrect prayers with this installation, which throws some crazy cool shadows.

Mississippi Museum of Art Visual Voices Contemporary Chickasaw Art Joanna Underwood Blackburn Jackson Mississippi

Erin Shaw conjures imagery from underneath the ancient sea.

Mississippi Museum of Art Visual Voices Contemporary Chickasaw Art Erin Shaw Jackson Mississippi

Visual Voices: Contemporary Chickasaw Art is open through June 2. You can plan your visit here.