Bobby C. Martin

Bobby C. Martin is an artist, educator and facilitator who works out of his 7 Springs Studio near West Siloam Springs, Oklahoma. Martin is active in the contemporary Native American art world and his work has been featured in numerous group and solo exhibitions, the most recent being a one-person exhibition entitled But You Don’t Look Indian… at Art Ventures Gallery in Fayetteville, Arkansas, in 2018. As an independent curator, he launched the national touring exhibition, Return from Exile: Contemporary Southeastern Indian Art, in 2015-2018. Martin’s work is exhibited in numerous museum collections including the Philbrook Museum and Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College, the Museum of the Great Plains in Lincoln, Nebraska, and the Sam Noble Museum in Norman, Oklahoma.

An enrolled citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) tribe, Martin currently holds a Professor of Visual Arts position at John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, and is Director of the Windgate Gallery. He frequently leads printmaking workshops and artist retreats at his studio at various museums and art centers in the Midwest.

About the Work

Old family photographs passed down from my fullblood Muscogee (Creek) grandmother, my mother, and my aunts and cousins provide a nearly endless supply of resources for my artwork. These images of close kinfolk and distant relatives have become icons for me, symbols of a Native American identity that is not seen as “traditional,” but is just as valid and vital to me – a tradition of Indian Christianity and mission schools that has been part of my family history for generations. The images provide a connection with my past, a way to remember and honor the generations that have come before – a way to commemorate our unique family heritage.

Many of my relatives attended various Indian schools, so I became very interested the formation of schools created to give our ancestors a ‘proper education.’” My grandmother, Mabel Carr, attended the Dwight School from around 1917 to 1919. The only thing that survived her time there were some photo postcards of the sports teams and a picture of a handsome mystery man. This exhibit includes Pursuit of Civilization #6, one in a series of works where I use this family relic to parse the makeup of my heritage and identity. Like the complicated layers of my heritage and identity, the use of layers of glaze, of encaustic wax, is an act that builds up layer by layer to create both a physical and metaphorical representation of the effect of time and memory.

Voted Best Art Gallery 2019 in "Best of Northwest Arkansas”


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