'A lot of what
I do incorporates wolves and buffaloes.'
Says Oklahoma-based Native Artist Tom Farris
Farris is the Native superhero as an artist that works to
support other Native artists. (courtesy photo Facebook)
When Tom Farris was a kid, his parents traveled to galleries
the U.S. in search of paintings, jewelry, baskets, pottery, beadwork
and sculptures. Though this Native artist and gallery coordinator
says he was less than thrilled to be dragged along on these excursions,
the exposure eventually led him to his calling as a Native artist
that works to support other Native artists.
lot of what I do incorporates wolves and buffaloes.
Says Oklahoma-based Native Artist Tom Farris. (photo courtesy
As a 12-year-old kid youre not too stoked to be
hanging around an art gallery all day, Farris said in a Chickasaw
Nation release. But, I had a lot of time to explore things
on my own, get into the things I was drawn to, appreciate what I
liked as a kid before I knew that was what you were supposed to
a work of art purchased by the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona
and featured in their Natives in Comic Books show,
Tom Farris gave Superman long hair and used the Cherokee letter
for S in place of the normal Superman emblem.
(photo courtesy Chickasaw Nation)
Influenced by such famous Native artists as T. C. Cannon and
R. W. Geionety, but with a flair for the rebelliousness of contemporary
art, Tom Farris turned to pop culture and comics.
After studying Communications at the University of Science and
Arts of Oklahoma, Tom Farris joined a Chickasaw summer youth program
at the Jacobson House Native Art Center.
Artwork by Tom Farris demonstrates a blend of pop culture
and tradition. (top left) Hindsight (top right)
Oh Johnny Girl (bottom left) Shag 2
(bottom right) Shag.(photo courtesy Chickasaw
I took over their gift shop that summer, rearranged things,
repriced things. I was very excited to be there. I was 20 and meeting
a lot of people who are now lifelong friends and artists I work
with. That summer internship turned into a career, Farris
said in the release.
Farris then created and managed the Cherokee Art Market in Tulsa,
a yearly show featuring artists from many different tribes. Farris
later operated the Standing Buffalo Indian Art Gallery and Gifts
for three years.
Tom Farris explained the name of his gallery. Im
Buffalo Clan of the Otoe-Missouria on my mothers side. On
my dads side, Cherokee, he is Wolf Clan. A lot of what I do
incorporates wolves and buffaloes. Buffalo in particular, because
my Otoe-Missouria name, which my parents still refer to me as, translates
to Standing Buffalo. Thats where my gallery name came from.
Farris now works as manager of Exhibit C in Oklahoma Citys
Bricktown, which is an outlet for him to support Native artists.
Farris (photo courtest Facebook)
Every job that Ive had on the professional side
of art has been an effort to try and create a market in Oklahoma
for Native artists to have a viable place to sell their work. My
eternal quest is to cultivate that best I can, Farris said.
His dedication to this goal has spanned 20 years and enlisted
the support of many tribes, artists and friends. The support
from tribes has been excellent. They are willing to make the investment
in building the market. I think its on the upswing,
Most recently, Tom Farris was one of 116 elite Native American
artists that was selected to take part in the Artesian Arts Festival,
hosted by the Chickasaw Nation at the Artesian Plaza. At the Artesian
Arts Festival, esteemed artists representing 25 Native American
tribes throughout the United States and Canada were featured Saturday,
His painted handdrum encased in an In Case of Emergency,
Break Glass display case came in second place in the drums
place in drums at the Artesian!
To keep up with Farris and his art, visit www.facebook.com/theartoftomfarris