Oklahoma Contemporary

Media Release

Artists explore how Indigenous artistic principles translate across disciplines, evolve over time

May 16, 2023
A colorful humanoid figure with repeating geometric patterns (left), tan scrollwork on a black background (center) and a repeating red, pink and orange floral pattern (right)


Contact: Lori Brooks | 405 951 0000 | lbrooks@okcontemp.org
Media kit: bit.ly/OC_Patterns

The ~20 works in Patterns of Knowing, now on view, reflect the relationship between art and cultural insight

Patterns of Knowing, now on view in the Mary LeFlore Clements Oklahoma Gallery, explores the movement of history, specifically patterns sourced from Indigenous cultures that embody lineages of intergenerational ideas and how they evolve over time.

“Artists Jordan Ann Craig (Northern Cheyenne Tribe), Benjamin Harjo Jr. (Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma/Seminole) and Jeri Redcorn (Caddo Nation of Oklahoma/Citizen Potawatami) create works using shapes, colors and symbols that are part of a living culture,” says Associate Curator Pablo Barrera. “By anchoring their inventive compositions to the heritage of their respective communities, the artists simultaneously preserve Indigenous visual language and contribute toward its evolution as a contemporary art form.”

The three featured artists’ approach to patterns is showcased through nearly 20 artworks: ceramics, paintings, prints and drawings. Craig creates large-scale works that draw upon the color and rhythm of Indigenous patch- and beadwork. By painting symmetrical, repeated blocks of color in various hues, Craig typifies North America’s long-standing relationship with abstract art while simultaneously articulating time, space and intimate experiences. Also, visitors will find something new in the third floor gallery: a corner covered in Craig-designed wallpaper, inspired by her artist book, also on view.

Abstract image of a colorful oval with geometric patterns and protruding lines over a blue and white checkerboard
Benjamin Harjo Jr., Medicine Bundle

The internationally known Harjo Jr., who passed away May 20, was a Red Earth Festival Honored One and won a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native American Art Studies Association. The artist was known for rich and vibrant prints and paintings that tend to feature figures in motion, contrasted against a background of vivid symbols. A member of Absentee Shawnee and Seminole Tribes, Harjo Jr. experimented with traditional tribal patterns to generate perspective depth within his works. Through his use of triangles, squares and stripes, Harjo Jr. celebrated the limitless boundaries of Indigenous pictorial vocabularies, another avenue for language.

Redcorn is a leader in the revitalization of Caddoan pottery, carrying this traditional practice into the contemporary art world. Embracing the mathematical and philosophical principles behind this tribal style, the 83-year-old artist’s geometric patterns weave and intersect to form scrollwork meandering across the surface of vessels. Redcorn’s work evokes the journey that heritage Caddo designs have traveled between communities, contemplating their personal and collective significance.

In addition to four ceramic works, Redcorn collaborated with local artist Kristin Gentry (Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma) to translate her pottery design into a large-scale mural, a reimagining of Ayo Wahdut Kuku (Sky Earth Water), featured at the First Americans Museum. The color was created by incorporating dirt from grounds in Oklahoma and Texas where Caddo nations have ancestral territory and sourced clay. Redcorn’s works are in national collections, including the White House (First Lady Michelle Obama acquired Intertwining Scrolls, 2009)

“The artists’ exceptional works help to transform conventional narratives of American art and culture and encourage more inclusion and celebration of creative expressions from communities whose voices and artistic practices have long been marginalized and ignored,” Barrera says. “Patterns of Knowing invites viewers to learn more about the lineage of artistic practices tapped by Craig, Harjo, and Redcorn, and the ways they are contributing toward the constant evolution of Indigenous patterns and artistic principles.”

Harjo Jr. leaves behind a lasting influence on Indigenous art. “Ben has left behind a legacy of work that will continue to have an enormous impact on the Indigenous art world,” Barrera said. “His influence has touched the lives and careers of multiple generations of artists in the region for decades, and we celebrate how much his philosophy embodied in his practice has bolstered our artistic community. … I am grateful that we had a chance to celebrate him and his gifts at the opening of his exhibition, just days before his passing on. While it is with sadness that we face his absence from future celebrations and gatherings, it is both humbling and an honor to continue to look to Ben’s innovative and expansive artistic reach for the collective of communities mindful of the living cultural path we endeavor to forge.”

Patterns of Knowing will be on view through Oct. 23, 2023.

A media kit featuring a press release and high-resolution images can be found at bit.ly/OC_Patterns. Interviews with the artists, curator and Oklahoma Contemporary staff can be organized through Lori Brooks (lbrooks@okcontemp.org). Past press releases and information are archived at oklahomacontemporary.org/media.

About the artists
Jeri Redcorn (b. 1939, Albuquerque, N.M.; Caddo Nation of Oklahoma/Citizen Potawatomi; B.S. mathematics, Wayland Baptist University; M.Ed. education administration, Pennsylvania State University) co-founded the Jacobson House Foundation and the Red Earth Festival. Her works are in national collections, including the White House (First Lady Michelle Obama acquired Intertwining Scrolls, 2009). Redcorn’s honors include a residency at Art Institute of Chicago (2004); Rockefeller Fellowship (2007); and election to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences (2021). Redcorn lives in Norman, Okla.

Benjamin Harjo Jr. (b. 1945, Clovis, N.M.; Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma/Seminole; B.F.A., Oklahoma State University) studied at the Institute of American Indian Arts and received a Bureau of Indian Affairs grant before serving in Vietnam in 1969. He was named a Red Earth Festival Honored One (2003) and Signature Artist for the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts Santa Fe Indian Market (2005), and won a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native American Art Studies Association (2009).

Jordan Ann Craig (b. 1992, San Jose, Calif.; Northern Cheyenne Tribe; B.F.A., Dartmouth College) has held residencies at the Institute for American Indian Arts and the Roswell Program and received fellowships from the Society of Architectural Historians and the School for Advanced Research. With her sister, Madison Craig, she co-founded Shy Natives, an apparel line that empowers Indigenous women. She sits on the Indian Arts and Crafts Board. Craig lives in Pojoaque Valley, N.M.

About Oklahoma Contemporary
At the new, state-of-the-art Oklahoma Contemporary, visitors explore art and creativity through exhibitions, performances and a wide variety of educational programs. At its core, the multidisciplinary contemporary arts organization is an inclusive space. Exhibitions and most programs are free. You are always welcome here.

In addition to the 8,000 square feet of galleries for visual art, Oklahoma Contemporary’s new downtown home includes a flexible theater, a dance studio and nine classrooms for Camp Contemporary and Studio School. The 4.6-acre grounds also include The Studios, a renovated warehouse that houses ceramics, fiber, painting, printmaking and sculpture classes. Campbell Art Park, our Sculpture Garden and North Lawn lend outdoor space for exhibitions, programs and performances.

After providing contemporary art experiences of all kinds for 30 years at the State Fairgrounds, these new, centrally located facilities dramatically increase Oklahoma Contemporary’s capacity to meet growing demand for arts and culture across our city, state and region.

Oklahoma Contemporary is a regional 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization founded in 1989 by businessman and philanthropist Christian Keesee and Kirkpatrick Foundation Director Marilyn Myers.


Detail views of Benjamin Harjo Jr.’s Before the Tears (1995), Jeri Redcorn’s Ayo Wahdut Kuku (Sky Earth Water) (2021) on view at First Americans Museum, and Jordan Ann Craig’s Wallpaper II: Eat Flowers for Powers (2023).

Benjamin Harjo Jr., Medicine Bundle, 2015. Gouache on paper. 24 x 20 inches. Collection of Joe and Valerie Couch. © Benjamin Harjo Jr. Photo courtesy of the artist.


Monday 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Closed Tuesday

Wednesday 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Thursday 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.

Friday - Sunday 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.

see additional holidays


Visit us at 11 NW 11th St.
Oklahoma City, OK 73103
Phone: 405 951 0000
Fax: 405 951 0003

Oklahoma Contemporary
P.O. Box 3062
Oklahoma City, OK 73101

Newsletter Signup

Join our mailing list to learn about our events, exhibitions, education and more.