Mike Larsen’s elder portraits showcased through online video tour

Release Date: 09.29.2020
By: Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office

  • Mike and Martha Larsen at an exhibit from their “Listening to Our Elders” series at the Chickasaw Cultural Center.

  • Mike Larsen

A virtual tour of portraits by famed Chickasaw artist Mike Larsen is featured during the Chickasaw Annual Meeting and Festival. Available through Oct. 3, the guided tour takes place in the Aaittafama’ room at the Chickasaw Cultural Center, a space which houses rotating art collections expressive of Chickasaw people’s history and culture.

The tour is available online at AnnualMeeting.Chickasaw.net or Facebook.com/TheChickasawNation.

Larsen is a world-renowned painter and sculptor who has created First American art for more than 40 years. Many of his works honor the culture and history of the Chickasaw Nation and can be seen in galleries throughout the country.

Larsen and his wife, Martha, work closely together when bringing his paintings to life.

James Wallace and Joshua Hinson host the virtual tour of Larsen’s third series of Chickasaw elder portraits called “Listening to Our Elders.”

Hinson is director of the language department and Wallace is director of visual arts, media and design for the Chickasaw Nation.

Larsen’s elder portrait series began nearly 15 years ago and now includes 72 paintings. Each series has been featured at the Chickasaw Cultural Center.

“I want people to recognize this incredible heritage we have right here. That’s why we have been so excited about doing these paintings,” Larsen said. “I have these people for such a short time. An hour is not long, but now we have these to look at, so you can have as long as you want. You can see them, read about them and make some contact with these people.”

“Listening to Our Elders” showcases portraits of Chickasaw elders Brenda Kingery, Stan Smith, Mary Smith, Neal McCaleb, Sue Simmons, Floyd Parnacher, Mary Jo Green, Shirley Stark, Dawatha Easterling, Charles Tate, Ruby Horse, Pauline Brown, Sam Johnson, Tim Colbert, Margaret Roach Wheeler, Russell Anoatubby, Gene Anoatubby, Ted Anoatubby, Othalee Manning, Lilian Underwood, Rose Jefferson Shields, Towana Spivey, William Paul, Homer Paul, Nathaniel Thomas, Linda Briggs, Willarene Amos, Winnie McNeeley and Geraldine Brown.

Pieces are named in the Chickasaw language and captions introduce each Chickasaw elder. Hinson reads the titles and descriptions while high resolution photographs depict Larsen’s art.

Larsen’s creations are also on display in a new exhibit at The Goddard Center in Ardmore, available Tuesday-Saturday until Oct. 30.

About Mike Larsen

Larsen is a painter and sculptor of history with creations commissioned by governments, corporations and individuals located throughout the United States.

“A student of history, I research the past events of the subjects I paint and sculpt. As an ongoing student of art, I am influenced by the beauty of the world around me. The more I create, the more I have to conclude that learning is a lifelong pursuit – especially in art,” Larsen explains on his online studio at LarsenStudio.com.

In 2000, he was inducted into the Chickasaw Hall of Fame. He is a 2015 inductee into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.

Larsen designed the postage stamp which commemorated the centennial of Oklahoma statehood in 2007. It featured an Oklahoma sunrise over a river and reads “Oh, what a beautiful mornin’...”

In autumn 2012, Larsen completed “The Arrival” for the Chickasaw Cultural Center. It is a large bronze statue representing the new start of the Chickasaw Nation after removal from the Homeland. In 2017, he completed another bronze statue entitled “Victorious” for the Chickasaw Retreat and Conference Center.

Among his best known projects is a 26-foot mural of five First American ballerinas, all born in Oklahoma, which is displayed in the State Capitol Rotunda.

Perhaps the project closest to his heart is the Chickasaw Nation’s Living Elders project: 72 portraits of elders of the Chickasaw Nation. The commission was begun in 2005 with 24 portraits and has continued with two more groups of elders. The latest group of portraits were installed at the Chickasaw Cultural Center in the fall of 2019.

Larsen and his wife married in 1990 and reside in rural Oklahoma. She collaborates with him on various projects and has a background in art and photography.

About the virtual Chickasaw Annual Meeting and Festival

This year, for the safety of citizens and community members during the ongoing pandemic, the Chickasaw Annual Meeting and Festival is celebrated virtually Sept. 26 – Oct. 3, 2020.

Everyone is welcome to enjoy a weeklong series of events, cultural demonstrations and more from anywhere. Experience and celebrate Chickasaw culture, heritage and progress on your computer, tablet, smartphone or any other streaming device.

Virtual events will include cultural classes and demonstrations, history presentations, the presentation of the Dynamic Woman of the Year Award and Silver Feather Award, and the SEASAM art market.

For information regarding the Chickasaw Annual Meeting and Festival events and schedules, visit AnnualMeeting.Chickasaw.net. Broadcasts of various activities will be available on KCNP Community Radio and on KCNP.org. Additional information is also available on Chickasaw Nation social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.