Byline: Morgan Taylor/Multimedia Producer
EUFAULA, Oklahoma – An artist call from the Muscogee (Creek) Nation tourism department led Joseph “Joe” Hopkins back to the Muscogee Nation reservation for a chance to display his artwork and participate in the Vision Eufaula Mural Festival and Art Walk. Of the seven-featured mural artist, Hopkins was the singular indigenous artist.
According to Vision Eufaula President Karen Weldon, the MCN sponsored Hopkins and his participation in the event. She said she applauds the MCN for being an excellent working partner of the City of Eufaula.
“The Muscogee Nation is the main tribe here in the Eufaula area,” Weldon said. “In fact, (the Muscogee (Creek) Nation) was an inspiration for the 3D mural. We have always wanted the Creek Nation to partner with us.”
Hopkins traveled from his current home of Phoenix, AZ, to the Eufaula for a weeklong Mural Art Walk event to represent the nation and showcase his artwork on September 23-24. His design incorporated Mvskoke culture, Lake Eufaula, and the features of its’ historic downtown.
Using a southeastern Indian figure in a canoe on the mural was one way that Hopkins brought representation to the Mvskoke (Creek) People. Implementing tribal design within the giant green letters spelling “Eufaula” also helped to bring representation to other tribes in the area.
Being raised by a non-native family after adoption in Carney, OK, Hopkins lost touch with his Mvskoke heritage until his adult years. Art was one way that he learned to cope and heal.
“It’s always good to be back here,” Hopkins said.
For the first time in his career, he used spray paint materials for this project.
“The Oklahoma wind made it challenging,” he said.
Ultimately, Hopkins enjoyed using the material for this particular project. As he reflects on the week’s unexpected challenges, he laughs and commends Shavon Agee for assistance getting materials to him.
Hopkins realized that the area was much different than he expected.
The original design he intended was 14 feet by 52 feet.
“When I got here, it was 73 feet by nine feet,” Hopkins said. “We didn’t have to change anything, but we had to scale up, so we didn’t have enough paint.”
Despite the difficulties, Hopkins could showcase his artwork on the reservation he once called home.
“I am very honored and excited,” Hopkins said.
The artists were expected to be complete Friday afternoon as the mural art walk kicked off. Vendors started to fill the side streets with tents full of handmade products for purchase. Products ranged from handmade soaps, paintings, décor, jewelry, and unique pieces that one might not find in the local department store.
Murals were judged, but unfortunately, Hopkins did not place, although his mural will be a part of the downtown Eufaula scene.
He has participated in similar projects where he brings Native American culture to life through his paintings in California and Texas.
Hopkins can be found on Instagram, sockmonkey2011, where he sells canvas art, shirts, prints, and a “little bit of everything.”