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
"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
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,"
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.