TVLSE, Okla. – Indigenous artists of different art mediums, and tribal nationalities gathered to display their works at the second annual Mvskoke Art Market at River Spirit Casino and Resort April 22-23. This year’s market followed last year’s successful inaugural opening. The market has become a staple within the past year, one that stands toe to toe with other well-known Mvskoke events like Festival.
The event exhibited paintings, pottery, sculptures, jewelry, silver work, bead work, quilt work, and textiles. These works not only depicted Mvskoke culture, but other tribal nation’s cultures as well.
Muscogee (Creek) Nation Cultural Center and Archives Department Program Manager ShaVon Agee is the organizer for the event. Her and her team work around the clock to make sure all aspects of the event were operational. It is an event that requires months of planning in advance.
“Our hospitality is bar none, I think we have some of the best staff and committee members,” Agee said.
After last year’s market proved to be a big success among the Indigenous art community, Agee said many were eager to see what this year’s market had in store for the artists and patrons.
According to Agee, this year’s artists increased from 60 in 2022, to 83 this year. At least 20 came from outside the state. Overall, over 20 tribal nations were represented. Agee attributes this year’s growth to the hospitality presented by the Nation at last year’s market, and its warm public reception spread by word of mouth.
This year saw a lot of artists that were hesitant to participate in last year’s market.
“First year markets, you’re never sure how they are going to go,” Agee said. “At the end of our (first) market they were like ‘oh man, I wish I would have been there’ but this year we were able to get those who wished they had entered last year.”
With this year’s market marking its second year, Agee’s team was more prepared going into it. This year brought new challenges with more artists and more traffic. People from around the MCN Reservation and the United States attended to see what this year’s market had to offer.
While this market does not currently showcase over a hundred artists yet, Agee said it is a goal her department would like to strive toward someday. While there is always pressure to expand, Agee’s team is already planning and discussing how to improve for next year’s market.
One aspect new to this year’s market included Mvskoke cultural demonstrations. These included history, artists, and craftsmanship. Mvskoke Living Legend John John Brown gave flintknapping demonstrations, a popular staple seen at cultural events hosted by the Nation. A display with photos from the Mvskoke Ancestral Homelands was on display as well.
According to Agee, the added demonstrations allowed market goers to participate in cultural lessons and activities in addition to shopping and admiring the artists’ works.
The reception from the artists that have participated in the market has been positive. For Mvskoke artists in particular, it holds a special meaning.
“They’re excited that the Nation has an art market for them,” Agee said. You can tell that they have a sense of pride about ‘this is our art market’”
Agee remarked that her favorite part of the event is how it brings people together in what she described as a “family reunion”. The market’s relaxed and comfortable environment encouraged people to talk, laugh and enjoy one another’s company.
The 2024 Mvskoke Art Market has been announced, however specific dates have yet to be determined. To stay up to date on next year’s market, visit their social media page at: facebook.com/mvskokeartmarket.