‘My Art is About Messages’

Categories: 2020 January-February Issue, Alabaster, Figurative, Joe, Oreland, Oil, and Portrait.

Oreland C. Joe is committed to three things in life: his family, his art, and encouraging young Native Americans to preserve their culture. “The most valuable lesson one could ever learn in any field,” he says, “is to give your success back to the children and the community.” That is exactly what Joe is doing through a foundation he started in 2018, but more about that later.

Joe has earned great acclaim for the artwork he creates, which includes paintings, stone carvings, bronze sculptures, and jewelry. He has won more awards than we have space to list here, and his stone and bronze sculptures are included in private, corporate, and museum collections throughout the world. He also recently added ledger art to his repertoire and is earning kudos for that work as well.

Ledger art is a term that describes narrative drawings or paintings done by Native Americans in the late 1700s to record their history on paper or cloth. Before then, they painted on buffalo hides, which were not available after they were forced to live on reservations, and began to do their paintings on the pages of inventory books they got from fur traders and mountain men. “By 1890, those ledger paintings were being collected by anthropologists from museums,” Joe says.

Cheyenne Beadworker

Utah alabaster
23 ½” by 11” by 6 ½”

“This image reflects the beadworkers of the Indian Agency period in Oklahoma. Trade merchants brought basic colors for them to work with. Eventually, more glass bead sizes arrived. This led to many more traditional, colored designs on buckskin.”

Plenty of Horses

24” by 36”

“Horse thieves were common among the Plains tribes. Songs were sung to aid in the taking of horses. This Cheyenne warrior has successfully taken coup on many Pawnee warriors and taken their favorite horses.”