Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America
January 15, 2000 - Issue 01

Virginia Stroud

Peaceful Interludes
"........a viewer approaches a painting. The painting greets the viewer. The space between the painting and the viewer is where the spirit world lives. That small space separates us."-Virginia Stroud

Over the past thirty years, Virginia Stroud has established herself as a leading contemporary Native American artist and has compiled an impressive record in the process. The above quote typlifies her concept of aesthetic values and the objectives she attempts to achieve in her paintings. Her objectives and methodolgy is further exemplified when she states, "As an artist I touch the human chord that erases the multicultural boundaries and ask the viewer to look for the familiar and not the differences of humanity."

Continuing in the earliest traditional painting style, she does not paint the facial features, and individual identity passes into the background. Characters are ecognized by their clothing and their identities are established by their roles. This is especially true of the Native American women who's "roles as caretaker, nurturer, gatherer and spiritual instructor remained the same, handed down from one generation of daughters to another." Identity is established by what is familiar to a culture, and the viewer is asked to both recognize the differences through identity and to overlook those differences, thereby enriching the spiritual world
by minimizing the distance between themselves and the art.

"I paint for my people. Art is a way for our culture to survive...perhaps the only way. More than anything, I want to become an orator, to share with others the oldest of Indian traditions. I want people to look back at my work just like today we're looking back at the ledger drawings and seeing how it was then. I'm working one hundred years in front of those people and saying 'this is how we still do it...we still have our traditions.'"

Of Cherokee and Creek descent, Virginia was born in 1951 in Madera, California. She was educated in public schools in California and Oklahoma, and graduated from Muskogee Central High School in 1969. Virginia attended Bacone Junior College from 1969-1970 and the University of Oklahoma, 1971-73, summer 1975, and 1976-77, majoring in elementary education and art.

In May, 1970, she became the youngest Native American artist to receive first place honors in the Woodlands division of the 25th Annual American Indian Artists Exhibition at Philbrook Art Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In 1972, she won the Heritage Award at the Five Civilized Tribes Museum in Muskogee, Oklahoma. In 1975, Virginia again won a first place award at the 30th American Indian National Exhibition at the Philbrook Art Center. In 1982, Virginia Stroud was selected Artist of the Year by the Indian Arts and Crafts Association..

Pleasures of the Heart-Boy

Virginia's artwork has appeared on the cover of Oklahoma Today, Southwest Art, and in the first issue of Four Winds magazine. Her work was illustrated in Indianische Kunst im 20 Jahrhundert, a German publication and in Beyond Tradition, Contemporary Indian Art and Its Evolution by Jerry and Lois Jacka, 1988.

Virginia has been honored in the past as Miss Indian America, served on the Board of Directors of the Indian Arts and Crafts Association, and spent 1999 as a candidate for Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. In 1988 she began creating her painted furniture, and she has, in the past few years, authored, co-authored, and illustrated four books for children. Her book, Doesn't Fall Off His Horse, was recognized as NCSS-CBC Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies, IRA-CBC Children's Choice, and received the IRA Distinguished Book Award.

To see more of Virginia Stroud's work, visit:
Virginia Stroud

Pleasures of the Heart-Girl

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