National Museum of American Indian Buys Shawl Made by Chickasaw Artist

“Finger Woven Shawl” was purchased by the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

Published November 17, 2019

TISHOMINGO, Okla. — Tyra Shackleford is at it again.

Tyra Shackleford is a Chickasaw artist who specializes in ancient hand-weaving techniques like sprang and finger weaving.

The Chickasaw master fabric weaver sold a breathtaking, multicolored, lightning-bolt shawl to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) in Washington, D.C.

It marks the second time Shackleford’s talent has enticed a museum purchase with her intricate and delicate finger-woven creations.

Shackleford’s “The Lady” earned the Harrison Eiteljorg Purchase Award at the Eiteljorg Indian Market and Festival in Indianapolis, Indiana, two years ago. “The Lady” is a specialized “sprang” technique of weaving shown to Shackleford by Margaret Roach Wheeler, a Chickasaw recognized globally for her textile artistry.

“The Lady” was added to the Eiteljorg permanent museum collection but is on loan to “Visual Voices: Contemporary Chickasaw Art,” currently on exhibit in Santa Fe, New Mexico, through 2020. It is more than eight feet in length, elegantly displayed to hang as if a woman was wearing it.

“I am very honored NMAI purchased the shawl and pleased it will be a part of a museum celebrating Native culture encompassing all of North America,” she said.

While “Finger Woven Shawl” doesn’t quite have the elegant moniker of “The Lady,” Shackleford said the piece is one of the more difficult she has tackled. “‘The Lady’ is a looser weave, and it flows. ‘Finger Woven Shawl’ is a tight weave. Both techniques require different sets of skills and each challenges me as an artist,” she said.

Shackleford burst onto the scene in 2016, claiming a first place and top spot in the textile division at the Southwest American Indian Art and Market, the nation’s largest and most prestigious Native American art show held annually in Santa Fe. The show is juried and art must be available for purchase during Indian Market and Festival.

In mid-2017, “The Lady” was purchased by Eiteljorg.

This year, “Finger Woven Shawl” was acquired by NMAI.

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  1. Linda 3 weeks ago
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