The Visage of Modern Matriarchy

Featuring two Oklahoma artists, DG Smalling and Nicole Moan, this exhibit visually explores the concepts of contemporary female warriors and reemerging matriarchy.

Open date

October 6, 2020

Close date

January 21, 2021

Exhibit type

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This exhibit visually explores the concepts of contemporary female warriors and a reemerging matriarchy. Inspired by hope for change and reform offered through the Operation Lady Justice initiative, Smalling’s stylized portraits of contemporary female leaders emerge from continuous strong black lines inspired by Southeastern tribal hieroglyphs and bloom with organic shapes of bold, consistent color. Envisioning the ethereal armor of contemporary female warriors, Moan manifests this spiritual regalia inelaborate, textural, mixed-media vestments, featuring ceramic bodices, natural embellishments, and hand-crafted fabrics.

"Indian Country does not divide or compartmentalize our societies between the spiritual, commercial, or political; rather, it is seen as a whole. These seven Matriarchs reflect that complexity." - DG Smalling

Choctaws, and other Southeast Native Americans, traditionally use the diamond pattern in reference to the rattlesnake. The vertical banner with five diamond spaces on the left of each painting is a way to acknowledge that [the painting] has been made by a Choctaw. For this series I [Smalling] have chosen to show the milestones of each woman. The colors reflect tribal affiliation, regalia, choice, or landscape of home.

"As a Two Spirit woman I also wanted to bring light to the epidemic of MMIW (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women), the broken promises of this nation, and the beauty that exists in the unique and vibrant Indigenous cultures in a modern way." - Nicole Moan

Nature has always been a driving force in my [Moan] work. My most used mediums come from Mother Earth. Both clay and glaze are gifts from Her and I strive to honor that by handling them with loving care to create and express ideas through art. I work in ways to create the least waste that I can in both art and in life, often making jewelry or beads with any surplus and adding solar panels to my home to lessen the impact my kilns make on the environment.

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