Release Date: April 05, 2024

by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office

OKLAHOMA CITY – Nationally celebrated Chickasaw artist Lance Straughn was preparing for the April 13 Artesian Arts Festival when the news arrived.

Straughn will be among five Chickasaws inducted into the Chickasaw Hall of Fame in ceremonies April 25. It is the highest honor the Chickasaw Nation bestows on tribal citizens.

“I was completely surprised,” Straughn said, adding humbly, “and very honored.” 

Straughn’s paintings, sculptures and carvings have been enjoyed for years by patrons of First American art. His success is boundless, having two paintings purchased by the U.S. Department of the Interior Museum in Washington, D.C. He has exhibited paintings in galleries across the nation and Oklahoma.

In June, he will be the featured artist at the ARTesian Gallery and Studios, adjacent to the Artesian Hotel and Spa in Sulphur.

“I am so pleased to be asked to exhibit my work. It is the finest establishment the Chickasaw Nation operates to premiere art on a wide scale,” he said. “The (Chickasaw) Nation has featured art at Exhibit C in Oklahoma City and at the Sulphur Welcome Center, for which I am honored.”

At 83, he makes his home in Bethany and creates art as he desires, sometimes in the wee hours of the morning. He looks forward to venturing to Sulphur April 13.

“It is my favorite art festival. I usually do pretty well there, and I enjoy seeing my friends and all the folks who stop to visit to ask questions about my art, techniques and how it all comes together,” he said. 

“I’ll try about anything,” he said laughing, but his most celebrated pieces are what he terms “spirit art.”

It is a mystery to even the artist where the creative forces come from to produce it.

But whatever those forces are, the U.S. Department of the Interior Museum loves them and has purchased two: “Night Run” and “Bear Clan Guardian.”

It was 2018 when Straughn was preparing for an exclusive exhibit at the Jacobson House on the University of Oklahoma campus, and the art form first struck him.

“It is like a force, or something takes the brush, dips it into the oil and transfers it to the canvas,” he has said. “It is like I have no willpower over what is produced or what the final painting reveals. It is through this phenomenon that both paintings were completed,” he said.

Spirit art has elements of realism with abstraction and impressionism. Straughn said he has never produced anything like it. And it only happens when the spirit moves his soul.

“I have attempted to recreate where the spirit has taken me and it has not worked out,” he said with a laugh. “When it comes over me, whatever the spirit is, has complete control.”

His work is available in the Norman, Oklahoma, “Tribes Gallery.” Numerous paintings, sculptures and other artifacts created by Straughn are on exhibit. He recently was the featured artist at the Chickasaw Visitor Center in Sulphur and has work in Exhibit C in downtown Oklahoma City.

“I took a dozen or so paintings to Sulphur along with some sculptures,” he said. One of his favorites in a sculpture of two bull buffaloes battling it out for supremacy. A small prairie dog whimsically watches the fight. That piece will be for sale at the Artesian Arts Festival along with a plethora of other fine art created by Straughn’s hand and that of his “spirit” inspiration.