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"Three Sisters" Featured On Pendleton Blanket Chickasaw Artist Brenda Kingery's Design Available
by Chickasaw Times

SULPHUR, OK - A small painting created by a Chickasaw artist during her quest to better understand her native culture is now the inspiration for a heritage blanket.

Brenda Kingery's "Three Sisters" blanket, produced by Pendleton Woolen Mills, is now available exclusively at the Chickasaw Cultural Center in Sulphur.

"Three Sisters" marks the third Pendleton blanket designed by a Chickasaw artist. The "Three Sisters" design was inspired by the gardens grown using the traditional Chickasaw "Three Sisters" (corn, beans and squash) planting method.

From her home in San Antonio, Mrs. Kingery said she was surprised and honored her art work was selected as the featured design on the blanket.

"This is really something – I am so honored," she said. "It was a surprise to me and I take it with great honor. I thank the Chickasaws for the opportunity."

Mrs. Kingery, who is known for her contemporary Native American art throughout the world, is the first female Chickasaw artist to be featured on a Pendleton blanket.

Her foray into realism and what ultimately became the featured art work on the blanket stemmed from a desire to know more about her Chickasaw culture.

A trip to Oklahoma for the Chickasaw Nation Dynamic Women's Conference sparked her fascination with Chickasaw culture and traditions. The experience left her with a desire to learn more.

"Every time I am in a group, (of Chickasaws) I'm asking questions to learn more," she said. "I love that part of us being Chickasaw, I love that we talk to each other and learn from one another."

She was inspired to interpret her heritage the best way she knows how – through her art.

"These figures are part of that learning skill. It's just something I did for the pure joy of it."

Mrs. Kingery ultimately created a series of five art pieces featuring Chickasaw women dancers.

Drawing on archival paper, she began with simple pencil drawings. When she was satisfied with their form, she would add color with acrylic and watercolor.

"The women all came from my imagination – I have to imagine them before I can draw them," she said.

Most of the artwork ended up at the Chickasaw Cultural Center's Apisa Art Gallery, where it caught the eye of staff members. They initiated the process for producing the Pendleton Blanket.

"The first design I submitted was more abstract – it was surprising to me that an actual figure would be implemented into a blanket," she said.

Mrs. Kingery said she was still learning about the Chickasaw culture through fellow artists and elders.

"There are all kinds of things I am still learning," she said. "I want to know more about the traditional colors, or how the ruffles fell or what shape the bodice was on the traditional regalia."

Mrs. Kingery is currently preparing for an April opening at Paris' Orenda Gallery. Also on her agenda for 2016 is an appearance at the Artesian Arts Festival, May 28 in Sulphur.

Three Sisters Design

The Three Sisters blanket design was inspired by the beautiful gardens grown by Chickasaw women using the traditional "Three Sisters" planting method. The three sisters – corn, beans and squash – are planted together so they can grow in support of one another, symbolic of Chickasaw women in its matriarchal society. The three sisters in Mrs. Kingery's painting dance in honor of the Chickasaw women in its society.

Abstract stalks of corn border the blanket.

Heather McGee, Pendleton Woolen Mills home merchandising associate, said the company was proud to partner with the Chickasaw Nation once again to create an original, exclusive design.

The initial partnership produced the "Gar Fish" blanket, created by Chickasaw artist Joshua Hinson.

Chickasaw artist Dustin Mater was commissioned by Pendleton to create a Southeastern tribal design for their official "Legacy" series of blankets. His "Spring" Pendleton blanket features designs signifying rebirth, fresh beginnings, good luck and prosperity.

"We're excited to work on another custom blanket for the Chickasaw Nation," Ms. McGee said.

Pendleton Woolen Mills respects the Chickasaw Nation and was honored to create yet another beautiful blanket for the Chickasaw Cultural Center."

Unlike traditional abstract Pendleton blankets, "Three Sisters" features figures woven in tan, sage, sky blue, dark brown, black, navy, orange, and copper yarn.

"We are able to achieve this type of intricate design because the blanket is woven on one of our Jacquard looms," Ms. McGee said.

The figure design in a Pendleton Blanket is "not particularly unusual but not as common as the geometric type of motifs."

Our design team is especially skilled at translating different types of artwork into a pattern that can be woven on our looms," she said.

The blanket is made of wool with a cotton warp. The wool is dyed and spun at the company mill in Washougal, Washington.

Pendleton wool blankets have been a part of Native American culture since the company's founding in 1863. The blankets are the pinnacle of quality craftsmanship.

For a century, Pendleton Woolen Mills has woven the legends and symbols of Native American tribes into beautiful blankets. In the early 20th century, Pendleton was among the few American mills making blankets specifically for Native American trade. A Pendleton blanket continues to signify honor and respect. For over a century, Indian people have acknowledged births, deaths and major milestones and accomplishments with the gift of a Pendleton blanket.

For more information about the "Three Sisters" Pendleton blanket, contact the Chickasaw Cultural Center at (580) 622-7130.

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