Address: 1700-2000 Blocks of S. 17th Street, Chichasha, Oklahoma
Two classrooms (Room 201 & 202) in this building contain a cycle of murals painted in 1934 by Acee Blue Eagle for the Public Works of Art Project. Room 201 contains the life-size murals, Buffalo Dancers and Moving Camp, as well as some small, decorative and stylized bird designs. Room 202 contains the life-size murals, Indian Spear Dancer and Dancer with Headdress. There was a third life-size mural, Drummer, also decorated a portion of one of the walls in the room, unfortunately, water damage to that wall caused the complete destruction of that mural. This room also contains a series of geometric designs, small bird designs as in Room 201, and a different, more abstract version of a thunderbird. They are significant because they exemplify New Deal art that is strongly associated with Oklahoma’s Indian heritage. Moreover, they are one of the few surviving examples of in situ art created in association with the Public Works of Art Project in the state.
The artist stylized image of the Buffalo Dancers, crowned with a bison herd and a demarcation of the four cardinal directions, suggest the importance of ceremony in establishing a beneficial communion with natural forces.
Spear Dancer and Dancer with Headdress
Demonstrates the influence of the Kiowa artists, and Blue Eagle’s fascination with the dances of the nineteenth century.
Provides another reference to nineteenth-century Plains culture. The artist decorated the rooms with several geometric abstractions of birds including one complex thunderbird abstraction, the style of which not only originate in native aesthetic traditions but also speak to the lingering popularity of the art deco style.
Destroyed due to water damage.
The birds are difficult to identify but may be eagles with their long wings and large tail feathers. Eagles hold a special place in reverence in Plains culture as the birds that fly highest and therefore able to to deliver prayers to the Creator. Similarly, the thunderbird is regarded as a manifestation of nature’s power and holds a mythical position in Plains Indian cosmology.
Although the various murals do no contain a narrative, they offer traditional, affirmative views of Plains culture, and Blue Eagle likely chose his subjects out of personal familiarity and as a means of celebrating Plains life.